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The novel is built on a major theme of absurdity as seen in the life and death of the narrator known as Meursault. He says that there is no meaning and purpose of living. He does not know how to treat others because of his odd behavior and this makes him suffer isolation from people. Absurdity is a situation where one feels alienated due to the repeated circumstances in life but still remains happy. Part One begins with Meursault announcing the death of his mother. He travels back home where the mother is to be buried but everyone is amazed by his reaction. He attends the funeral just to appease the society otherwise he had no grief. Meursault is not emotional and takes the business as usual. His attitude is shocking because he refuses to see the body though he keeps vigil over the night. This attitude indicates that he had no concern for his mother. “He says I had not been in the country for ages, and I caught myself thinking what walk I could have had, if it had not been for the death of Mother.” He feels as nothing has happened and decides to depart after the burial just promising to sleep for a while. At the end of the day he remarks that: “anyway one more Sunday is over after Maman was buried and that I was going back to work, nothing had changed.”This depicts him as an existential hero who is against human existence and is absurd with the physical environment.
The next day when he goes to work, his boss consoles him but he fails to take it when he says that his mother was aged. He has a lot of work to do after lunch but decides to get onto a truck, eats, takes a nap and returns to work late. Moreover, he meets Marie, a former typist in his firm and immediately begins a relationship with her. His desires drive him to sleep with her even though he is not ready to marry her. When Marie asks him if he loves her and incase he will marry her, he says:”it did not make any difference to me…it did not mean anything but I surely definitely didn’t love her.”Nevertheless he admits he does not love her and opts to defile her. Meursault is involved in unethical issues. For instance, he visits his friend Raymond and helps him to make his former girlfriend suffer sexual abuse and beating. He watches when the girlfriend is beaten instead of calling the police simply because he likes negative things and also hate the police. Moreover, he turns down the offer of his boss to promote him. This is attested when he says: “he asked me if I wasn’t interested in a change of life and I said people never change their lives. He looked upset and told me that I had no ambition.” He becomes furious and annoyed with very petty issues. He goes to bed without eating when he hears Salamano crying because of his lost dog.
While at the beach, Meursault is bored because of the excessive sun. He likes violence and is not shocked after killing the Arab. Part Two of the novel rotates around the events of Meursault’s trial and sentencing. He is arrested and taken to the prison but he refuses to cooperate with the lawyer and the law prosecutor becomes disappointed with him. He is still indifferent in his actions and to the proceedings that will determine his fate. The lawyer summons Meursault and he is interested in seeing what they will say about him. However, he loses concentration as the speeches become long. The prosecutor dwells on his crime an event that impresses Meursault. He considers it odd that his intelligence is being used to judge him and admits that the prosecutor is right to say that he never feels remorseful. The prosecutor, therefore, concludes that he deserves the trial before him since he has a merciless heart but he defends himself by that he killed the Arab mistakably because of the scorching sun. Meursault is not pleased when his lawyer frequently refers to him as “I” who makes him feel alienated from the conversation process. He is bored by the entire process and sees not point of judging him and wishes he could be allowed time to sleep instead. He says nothing when it is ruled that he is going to be killed before people. Indeed he does not even panic at all.
He recalls: “I could hear being judged intelligently but I couldn’t understand how an ordinary man’s good traits could become a centre of accusations against a guilty man. I didn’t feel remorse for what I had done but surprised by how relentless he was.” He is convicted of his deeds and waits death penalty. Moreover, Meursault is not worried when he receives a letter from Marie informing him that she won’t visit him again. He takes it easy and only relies on his thoughts and short term desires such as for smoking and for women. Furthermore, the only way to offend him was to deny him the freedom to think and to waste his time. While looking forward to be executed, he spends time in the prison reading a scrap newspaper about crime story continuously and reflecting on the things he used to do before he was arrested. “The papers were always talking about debts owed to the society…when I really thought it through; nothing could allow me such luxury. I would be caught up in the machinery again.” Despite all these challenges he went through the guy was still happy.
In the prison, he refutes the decision by the chaplain imploring him to repent of his guilt. He boldly awaits his execution and nothing else. He desires to visit all the executions but this desire is, however, short lived because of limited freedom in the cell. Persistently, he continues to think but this time round about dawn and appeal. He keeps watching every night ready to meet the guillotine. Meursault thinks of Marie for the last time even as the chaplain comes to plead with him just to believe in God and repent his sins. He holds to his atheist faith and fails to listen to the priest’s words. He is strongly devoted to his belief that there is nothing after death and says that he has lived his life well and no one’s life can make a difference to him.
The novel ends with Meursault accepting his fate and is prepared to face execution. He says he would wish to see crowd of people who hate him during his execution.
Life is said to be a journey where an individual is expected to be transformed and develop due to the challenges it has. However, in the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus the main character, Meursault, goes through a journey that does not lead to self actualization and realization. His journey is useless because he has no goal that he would like to achieve and hence makes no progress at all. He allows circumstances to move him and he does not value the existence for humanity. He is absurd and does not allow people to share their ideas with him but only sticks to his beliefs. The novel can be said to have been advocating for absurdity of a man whose actions and beliefs are extended to an extreme end.
The Stranger can be said to be a novel that describes a senseless murder that also ends his life senselessly. Nobody can wish to sympathize with Meursault when he faces execution because of his negative perception towards human and life. Ultimately he can be regarded as a noble failure that leaves no remarkable legacy to be remembered. He fails to show concern on sensitive matters and only value insignificant aspects of life. Meursault does not care about his mother and is not remorseful when she is dead. He lusts after Marie and does not show love for her, he is disgusted with nature and he is a violent man who kills a man and admits doing it because of circumstance before him. He is totally indifferent in his thoughts and actions and clings on the wrong behavior everyone is against. He is stimulated by physical senses such as hot, cold and sexual attraction which can be meaningless to an ordinary person.