Albert Camus ❖ THE STRANGER. THE. Stranger. By ALBERT CAMUS. Translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert. VINTAGE BOOKS. A Division of Random. The Stranger demanded of Camus the creation of a style at once literary and profoundly popular, an artistic sleight of hand that would make the complexities of a. ALBERT CAMUS. THE OUTSIDER. Translated by Joseph Laredie. Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I had a telegram from the home.
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PDF | Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher, proposes the Deconstruction Theory that deals with the relationship between text and meaning. Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The Stranger () - A novel that articulates Camus' concept of the absurd. Meursault, an unemotional. CHAPTER 2: Albert Camus' The Outsider. 2. Albert Camus' The Outsider. Introduction. The essay, The Myth of Sisyphus (English) Le Mythe de Sisyphe.
His conversation with the doorkeeper could be taking place anywhere- they might be two strangers meeting in an elevator or on a train.
CAMUS, Albert - The Stranger
As night falls, the doorkeeper offers to bring Meursault a mug of cafe au lait- coffee with milk. Meursault accepts the offer, and the two men continue their vigil beside the coffin. What reasons could you attribute to such an attitude? In preparation for the customary all-night vigil, the doorkeeper arranges a number of chairs around the coffin. You will find many more references to light throughout the story.
Do you have the impression they are trying to make him feel guilty? They nod their heads and suck their toothless gums. One of the old women at the vigil weeps, and the doorkeeper tells Meursault that his mother had been her closest friend. As the night progresses, Meursault grows tired and becomes aware of a pain in his legs. At dawn, all the old people shake hands with Meursault and leave. Yet he has a hard time staying interested in anything for very long.
His mind seems to work like an instant camera; after he takes the picture, however, he throws it away. To him, no one picture is much more important or carries much more weight than any other. Meursault experiences the funeral as a series of physical sensations. He smells the hot leather and the horse dung from the hearse and feels exhausted as a result of staying awake most of the night.
He has a bad headache and can barely drag himself along to the cemetery. As you read the novel, see how Camus conveys his philosophy in terms of human testimony, experience, and description- not analysis. But he was true to his own feelings. Why do you think he did? At the pool near the harbor he meets Marie Cardona, a former typist in his office.
Meursault and Marie swim together, frolicking happily in the water like children. Meursault and Marie doze off on a raft, his head upon her lap. As you read, note all the ways in which Camus uses the image of water. You might compare the water imagery to the images of sunlight which also occur frequently throughout the book.
Ask yourself how you would have reacted if you were Marie. Many people in Western cultures observe a period of mourning after a close relative has passed away or wear black as a sign that someone close to them has died.
Perhaps that is why Marie is not deeply affected by the news of the death. That evening, Marie and Meursault go to the movies to see a comedy starring the French actor Fernandel. On Sunday morning, Meursault awakens to find Marie gone. Is it because he prefers the regimented life of the work week to the freedom of the weekend, when he must make his own choices about what to do?
After lunch, he wanders restlessly around his apartment. You get the feeling that Meursault is just killing time, waiting for Monday and the routine of going to work. His meeting with Marie at the pool was purely accidental. Whatever encounters he has with people take place by chance. As you read, ask yourself what makes Meursault different or stand out from other people.
He spends most of the day on the balcony of his apartment.
From that vantage point, he observes a family going for their Sunday walk, the local teenagers on their way to the movies, the tobacconist across the street sitting outside his shop.
Most people would probably be bored with this routine, but Meursault seems content just to exist. Sunday or Monday, life or death- it seems to be all the same. He believed that the weariness that resulted from the acts of a mechanical life- a life that continued, unchanging, from week to week- was the condition necessary to give birth to the feeling of absurdity in an individual.
But you are told that the simple physical act of washing his hands during the day gives him pleasure. Then he returns to his apartment for a nap and later goes back to the office. This is his daily routine. Why do you think Camus spends so little time describing what Meursault does at work? Others feel that the ritual of going to work is more important to Camus than the work itself.
After work Meursault walks home along the harbor, feeling the coolness of the evening air on his face. On the steps of his apartment he meets an elderly man, Salamano, who lives with his dog on the same floor as Meursault. The man and the dog have lived together for eight years.
But Salamano regularly beats the dog, and the dog, in turn, irritates his master, by pulling on the leash when they walk down the street.
Before reaching his apartment, Meursault greets another neighbor, Raymond Sintes, who invites him into his room for dinner. Though he tells people he works in a warehouse, he is reputed to be a pimp. Some readers think that the similarities in the names seem to indicate that Camus wanted to call attention to the autobiographical elements in the novel and to indicate that much of the book was inspired by his childhood experiences.
But why Salamano beats his dog or Raymond beats his girlfriend is a mystery to him. Does this interpretation contradict his antisocial behavior at the nursing home? Others feel that Meursault is just drifting, as always, from one chance encounter to another. As you read, ask yourself why Meursault feels and acts the way he does. Do you think of him as an honest person? Or is he just acting selfishly? He has done this, disregarding the possible consequences, especially to the girl.
Meursault and his coworker, Emmanuel, have seen two movies, but we are not told the names of the movies. Why do you think Meursault tells you about the roller towel at work, yet neglects to give details about other aspects of his life?
On Saturday, Marie and Meursault go to the beach. Her physical presence stirs him out of his normal lethargy. He takes pleasure in just being with her, staring at her, enjoying her beauty and sensuality. At the beach they swim together on their backs. The next morning Marie asks Meursault whether he loves her.
Or maybe his spontaneity and impulsiveness, and his unwillingness to conform, are what appeal to her most. A moment of tenderness between Meursault and Marie is shattered by the sounds of a violent quarrel between Raymond and his girlfriend. This is another of the rare instances in which Meursault expresses an opinion.
Some readers feel his dislike of the police indicates a dislike of authority in general. Others think that the reference to the police is a way of foreshadowing events in the second part of the novel. Another tenant in the building arrives with a policeman.
Raymond, a cigarette dangling between his lips, finally opens the door. The policeman orders Raymond to take the cigarette out of his mouth. After a glance at Meursault for approval? Raymond defiantly continues smoking, and the policeman smacks him in the face. In his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, written about the same time as The Stranger, Camus posed the question whether to commit suicide when one is faced with the utter indifference of the universe.
To the anti-hero, suicide is not a solution. Instead, the anti-hero accepts his state of being, concentrating on experiencing the pleasures of the moment.
After she goes, Meursault takes a nap. You should note other places in the novel when Meursault sleeps after upsetting scenes or circumstances. Had Meursault, Raymond wants to know, expected him to defend himself against the policeman?
The two men go drinking in a cafe. Raymond proposes that they visit a brothel, but Meursault declines. On their way home they meet Salamano, who is frantically looking for his dog. Raymond tries to reassure Salamano by telling anecdotes about dogs that have returned to their masters, but Salamano is afraid that the police will find and destroy the dog.
Meursault says that Salamano should inquire at the pound where stray dogs are taken: and that for a small charge the dog will be returned to him. At the idea of paying money in exchange for his dog, Salamano flies into a rage and begins cursing the lost animal. Both men are controlled by their emotions. His self-control impresses people like Raymond and Salamano. Why do you think the visit from Salamano makes Meursault think of his mother?
Does Meursault, at this moment, want to be like everyone else? He assures Meursault that Marie can come along as well. Raymond also says that he thinks some Arabs, including the brother of his girlfriend, are following him. He asks Meursault to be on the lookout for any Arabs hanging around the house.
If he were to move to Paris, they argue, he would truly be a stranger, out of place, forced to focus on the minute details of merely surviving. The irony of this interpretation lies in the fact that Meursault already acts as if he were a foreigner, unaware of the customs of the world in which he presently exists, a world where a display of emotion at the death of your mother is expected of you, and where lack of ambition- turning down a bet- ter job- is frowned upon.
When Meursault returns to his desk, he gives us a brief glimpse of his past. For example, when he was 17, he suffered a bout of tuberculosis.
Just as Meursault had to give up his studies, so Camus was forced to abandon his dreams of becoming a teacher. Marie visits Meursault that evening and asks him to marry her. But his answer does hurt her and makes her wonder whether she really loves Meursault. Yet nothing Meursault says bothers Marie for very long.
Sensing that marriage is important to her, Meursault agrees to marry her whenever she wants. He tells her about the possibility of moving to Paris, and we learn that he once lived there.
In a book such as The Stranger, where the language a character uses is important in order to understand motivation, one must take into consideration such changes in the text. As you may have noticed, Meursault observes the people around him with great clarity and with an almost photographic precision, as if each person were a specimen under a lens. Once this woman joins Meursault, she takes no notice of him; but he watches her intently.
The way she moves reminds Meursault of a robot. Readers have interpreted the function of the robot-woman in the novel in a number of ways. Some feel that she epitomizes a machinelike, antihuman aspect of the world- rigid, inflexible, out of touch with the rhythms of the universe.
At the door of his house Meursault meets Salamano, who tells him that the dog is definitely lost. Meursault invites Salamano into his apartment and suggests that he find another dog to replace the lost one. A friend offered him a puppy, whom Salamano treated like a baby, feeding it first from a bottle.
Before leaving, Salamano informs Meursault that some neighbors had been critical of him for sending his mother to the nursing home. Salamano assures Meursault that he knew how much the latter was devoted to his mother, but, nevertheless, the criticism surprises Meursault.
Going to the home, where she could make friends, was the best thing for her, he feels. His bad mood on waking seems to foreshadow the events to come. Perhaps his mood is a warning that he should stay home. Marie, on the other hand, is excited about the excursion. Some people think that Marie is being thoughtless when she tells Meursault that he resembles a mourner.
Some readers think that by becoming so involved with Marie and Raymond, Meursault is compromising his sense of freedom. Others feel that his headache, on the day of the outing, is a signal that his involvement with other people is becoming too much for him to handle.
Still others claim that his involvement with Marie and Raymond has changed his attitude toward himself. He is no longer free to concern himself solely with his own physical comforts. Marie and Meursault wait outside for Raymond. The previous evening, Meursault tells us, he went to the police station, where he told the police that Raymond had been justified in beating his girlfriend.
Is there a connection between this hypocrisy on his part and his bad mood? One of the men, according to Raymond, is the brother of his girlfriend. On the bus ride Meursault notices that Raymond is attracted to Marie. Occasionally Marie gives Meursault reassuring looks, as if worried that he might be feeling jealous. The beach is on the outskirts of Algiers. As they walk to the water, Marie innocently swings her bag against the petals of the flowers.
Raymond introduces Meursault and Marie to Masson and his wife, who live in a small bungalow near the beach. Some readers feel that Meursault knows instinctively that his life is about to change. He does not hide his feelings. He expresses how he feels, not to hurt anybody but to call a spade a spade. His tone sounds very upset and helpless when he complains about this annoying sun under which he gets burnt and from whose circumference he cannot come out.
On this, the readers of the novel may have myriad number of queries. Why does Meursault dislike a natural phenomenon?
Why should he think that life is only an unmixed blessing? Is it a revolt that Meursault shows to the universe by abhorring the natural phenomena? Such questions are only logical to be asked. He does not pretend to be what he is not. The readers feel an affinity of truth with the protagonist.
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But questions lurk in their minds. If Meursault is man of uncontaminated sense and if he is righteous, why does he not show respect to the feelings of the fellow humans? To a man with conscience and consciousness, nothing can justify killing a human.
The sun shines on him, he feels hot and irritated. He gets rebellious to the total system of the universe, brings out a gun from his pocket and shoots a man four times. What sort of a righteous person can do that? But the authentic readers are not supposed to be supporting the idea of making life more complex. Just because some people think life to be already complex does not necessarily mean that it has to be made more convoluted and more unbearable. According to Camus, the truth is that human life is completely irrational and it is already inflicted with infinite pain.
Nevertheless, the idea of putting people into more severe pain does not seem to be supportable by anyone with some amount of sense. If human life is created basically for suffering, Meursault has every reason to help people forget this sadness to any extent. But, he is found to do otherwise. He, rather, exacerbates the sufferings of himself and other people.
If one ventures for coming in touch with the possible explanations of all these riddles, he may not be able to get hold of any static one. There remains an unending coil that presents numerous annotations of the meaning and significance of the novel. His father was killed in World War I. He himself was a patient of consumption that compelled him to leave his career of a footballer. He was forced to have his study on a part-time basis.
Camus joined the Communists and Marxists in and felt alienated from the prevalent ethical conflict that disappointed him largely Genovese, He refuses to act in accordance with the wish of the society and thereby uplifts his authentic self Rainville, Sometimes, the novel is illustrated in the absurdist point of view. In the same manner, Meursault is unconsciously groping for a niche in the vast world where he really feels at home Montes, In fact, meanings never cease to emerge from the novel.
As Jaques Derrida year states that there is no end to meaning, it happens in a comprehensive manner in case of the activities performed by Meursault, the protagonist of The Outsider. Every newer as well as deeper reading of the novel gives birth to unprecedented ideas. Different readers reach different conclusions regarding the motto of the novelist.
Even when the novel is being interpreted in a certain viewpoint, it is getting deconstructed into something novel and innovative. Manchester University Press, Manchester, Uk. The Outsider.
Translation Joseph Laredo Penguin Books Ltd. London, England. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Vintage , Moreover, this first encounter with all its spiritual bearings enables us to regard Meursault, as far as his philosophical concept of life is concerned, as the absurd man: for "what in fact is the absurd man? He, who without negating it, does nothing for the eternal. He prefers his courage and his reasoning. The first teaches him to live without appeal and to get along with what he has; the second informs him his limits".
He rarely makes any attempt to reach for something, and even on one of those occasions when he — almost mindlessly — follows the one he calls "the robot", this is for him just another experience, and a meaningless one: "Having nothing better to do, I followed her for a short distance…and soon I lost sight of her and turned back homeward.
For a moment the 'little robot' as I thought of her had much impressed me, but I soon forgot about her". His motto is not to disturb or be disturbed: "As I usually do when I want to get rid of someone whose conversation bores me, I pretend to agree" This is what he does with Raymond who demands the kind of relationship that Meursault cannot provide, although in this case Raymond does not bore him: "He asked me if I'd like us to be pals.
I replied that I had no objection". His indifference clarifies that the normal concept of feelings does not exist for Meursault, and demonstrates how far the notion that all experiences are equally unimportant can go: "Suppose another girl had asked you to marry her, I mean, a girl you liked in the same way as you like me — would you have said 'Yes' to her too? More significant, however, is the equally indifferent attitude that he demonstrates toward those who are supposed to be, according to the norm, closest to him: Marie and his mother.
I noted above his attitude to marriage, but here both she and his mother represent what are usually considered sacred institutions: Mother and Wife.
Regarding his mother, there is obviously a lack of contact between them: Meursault not only does not relate at all to the 'mother-son bond' between them, but even the contact derived from a common language, the physical use of the sense of speech, is missing: "for years she'd never had a word to say to me".
We are not told since when it was that his mother 'had never had a word to say' to him, and perhaps it had started when he was first affected by the 'absurd sensitivity'.
I again use so many "perhaps" and, as previously, where his past was hinted at, so now too, there seems to be some reflection of a different past and an implied lack that can never be fulfilled. By comparing his relationships with his mother to that with his girlfriend, it becomes clear that even in the latter case there is nothing beyond mundane references to food, objects, etc.
There are neither conversations nor common interests, the lack of which I noted above also in regard to his mother. Even the couple's sexual attraction is referred to by Meursault solely by means of physical descriptions. I regard the murder as an independent phase in Meursault's life because this episode indicates a retreat from his state in the first phase of being the 'absurd man'. The main requirement of the theory of 'absurd sensibility' is that whatever experiences man chooses to undergo, "it is up [to him] to be conscious of them".
There is awareness of the external objects before the murder: sun, sand, etc. If Meursault were to have acted as an 'absurd man', he would have intentionally chosen the murder as an experience; but such is not the case.Random House, A Biography.
In fact, in regard to this novel, Albert Camus in the disguise of Meursault has been interpreted in many different ways which in turn have placed the critics in disparate groups. Yet his incapacity to look beyond the sensation of the moment leads him into a pattern of action that changes his relationship to all these sensations, and in prison he is deprived of all that has made his life enjoyable. TEST 1 1. Society has condemned him for not being obedient to its values, but Meursault no longer cares.
After lunch, he wanders restlessly around his apartment.