The Stranger by Albert Camus
Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” is a novel that challenges traditional notions of morality, identity, and human existence. The novel follows the story of Meursault, a French Algerian who kills an Arab man in a moment of indifference and faces a trial and condemnation for his actions. Throughout the novel, Camus portrays Meursault as emotionally detached, apathetic, and disconnected from society, which ultimately leads to his tragic fate.
One of the central themes of “The Stranger” is existentialism, a philosophical movement that emphasizes the individual’s search for meaning and purpose in a world that is inherently meaningless. Meursault’s character embodies the existentialist philosophy, as he is detached from societal norms and values, and struggles to find purpose and meaning in his life. Meursault is indifferent to the death of his mother, has casual sex with Marie, and refuses to conform to society’s expectations of emotional expression. In this way, Meursault is an outsider, a stranger to the world around him, and is often seen as a representation of the existentialist condition.
Meursault’s detachment is also reflected in his attitude towards religion and God. Meursault rejects the idea of an afterlife and does not believe in God or any form of spiritual or moral authority. He sees the world as random and senseless, and his rejection of religion reflects his rejection of traditional morality. Meursault’s rejection of religion and morality is also reflected in his killing of the Arab man. Meursault does not kill the Arab because of a motive, but rather because of the indifference he feels towards life itself. He sees no value or purpose in the world and acts on this indifference, illustrating the existentialist view that human existence is fundamentally absurd and meaningless.
Another important theme in “The Stranger” is the philosophy of the absurd. Camus is often associated with this philosophy, which suggests that the world is inherently meaningless and irrational. Meursault’s character exemplifies the absurd, as he is constantly confronted with the nonsensical and irrational nature of the world. From his encounters with the prosecutor to his imprisonment and eventual execution, Meursault is confronted with the absurdity of the human condition. The novel’s plot and characters are often depicted as senseless and inexplicable, further emphasizing the absurd nature of human existence.
“The Stranger” is also a critique of colonialism and racism. The novel is set in French Algeria, a colonial territory where Arab and French cultures clash. The murder of the Arab man can be seen as a metaphor for the violence and oppression that characterized French colonialism in Algeria. Meursault’s indifference towards the Arab man’s death can be seen as reflective of the larger indifference towards Arab life that was characteristic of the colonial system. The novel’s depiction of the Arab man as nameless and faceless also reflects the racist attitudes of the time towards Arab culture.
Camus also explores themes of identity and alienation in “The Stranger”. Meursault’s detachment from society and lack of emotional expression create a sense of alienation from those around him. Meursault’s character is also seen as an outsider in French Algeria, a place where Arab and French cultures clash. Meursault’s French heritage is often juxtaposed with his Algerian surroundings, highlighting the tensions between these cultures. The novel can be seen as a commentary on the complexities of identity and the difficulties of fitting into a world that often emphasizes differences over similarities.
In addition to its thematic content, “The Stranger” is also renowned for its narrative style. The novel is characterized by its sparse language and detached tone, which adds to its complexity and ambiguity. Camus uses simple language to convey complex ideas, and the novel’s