The StrangerIn The Stranger, Albert Camus portraysMeursault, the book’s narrator and main character, as aloof, detached,and unemotional.
He does not think much about events or their consequences,nor does he express much feeling in relationships or during emotional times.He displays an impassiveness throughout the book in his reactions to thepeople and events described in the book. After his mother’s death he shedsno tears; seems to show no emotions. He displays limited feelings for hisgirlfriend, Marie Cardona, and shows no remorse at all for killing an Arab.His reactions to life and to people distances him from his emotions, positiveor negative, and from intimate relationships with others, thus he is calledby the book’s title, “the stranger”.
While this behavior can be seen asa negative trait, there is a young woman who seems to want to have a relationshipwith Meursault and a neighbor who wants friendship.He seems content tobe indifferent, possibly protected from pain by his indifference.Meursault rarely shows any feeling whenin situations which would, for most people, elicit strong emotions.
Throughoutthe vigil, watching over his mother’s dead body, and at her funeral, henever cries. He is, further, depicted enjoying a cup of coffee with milkduring the vigil, and having a smoke with a caretaker at the nursing homein which his mother died. The following day, after his mother’s funeral,he goes to the beach and meets a former colleague named Marie Cardona.They swim, go to a movie, and then spend the night together. Later in theirrelationship, Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her. He respondsthat it doesn’t matter to him, and if she wants to get married, he wouldagree.
She then asks him if he loves her. To that question he respondsthat he probably doesn’t, and explains that marriage really isn’t sucha serious thing and doesn’t require love. This reaction is fairly typicalof Meursault as portrayed in the book. He appears to be casual and indifferentabout life events. Nothing seems to be very significant to him. Later onin the book, after he kills an Arab, not once does he show any remorseor guilt for what he did. Did he really feel nothing? Camus seems to indicatethat Meursault is almost oblivious and totally unruffled and untouchedby events and people around him. He is unwilling to lie, during his trial,about killing the Arab.
His reluctance to get involved in defending himselfresults in a verdict of death by guillotine. Had Meursault been engagedin his defense, explaining his actions, he might have been set free.Meursault’s unresponsive behavior, distantfrom any apparent emotions, is probably reinforced by the despair whichhe sees open and feeling individuals experience. He observes, for example,Raymond cheated on and hurt by a girlfriend, and sees his other neighbor,Salamano, very depressed when he loses a dear companion, his dog.
Meursault’sresponses are very different, he doesn’t get depressed at death nor doeshe get emotionally involved. He appears to be totally apathetic. Thus,he seems to feel no pain and is protected from life’s disappointments.
Sometimes a person like Meursault can beappealing to others because he is so non-judgmental and uncritical, probablya result of indifference rather than sympathetic feelings. His limitedinvolvement might attract some people because an end result of his distanceis a sort of acceptance of others, thus he is not a threat to their egos.Raymond Sintes, a neighbor who is a pimp, seems to feel comfortable withMeursault. Sintes does not have to justify himself because Meursault doesn’tcomment on how Sintes makes money or how he chooses to live his life. Eventhough Meursault shows no strong emotions or deep affection, Marie, hisgirlfriend, is still attracted and interested in him.
She is aware of,possibly even fascinated by, his indifference. Despite the seemingly negativequalities of this unemotional man, people nevertheless seem to care forhim.There are individuals who, because of differentor strange behavior, might be outcasts of society, but find, in spite ofor because of their unconventional behavior, that there are some peoplewho want to be a part of their lives. Meursault, an asocial person is suchan individual.
His behavior, while not antagonistic or truly antisocial,is distant, yet it does not get in the way of certain relationships. Whilethere are some people who might find such relationships unsatisfying andlimited, Meursault and those he is connected to seem to be content withtheir