The Stranger

The Stranger

In The Stranger, Albert Camus portrays

Meursault, 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 the
people and events described in the book. After his mother's death he sheds
no tears; seems to show no emotions. He displays limited feelings for his
girlfriend, Marie Cardona, and shows no remorse at all for killing an Arab.

His reactions to life and to people distances him from his emotions, positive
or negative, and from intimate relationships with others, thus he is called
by the book's title, "the stranger". While this behavior can be seen as
a negative trait, there is a young woman who seems to want to have a relationship
with Meursault and a neighbor who wants friendship.He seems content to
be indifferent, possibly protected from pain by his indifference.

Meursault rarely shows any feeling when
in situations which would, for most people, elicit strong emotions. Throughout
the vigil, watching over his mother's dead body, and at her funeral, he
never cries. He is, further, depicted enjoying a cup of coffee with milk
during the vigil, and having a smoke with a caretaker at the nursing home
in 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 their
relationship, Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her. He responds
that it doesn't matter to him, and if she wants to get married, he would
agree. She then asks him if he loves her. To that question he responds
that he probably doesn't, and explains that marriage really isn't such
a serious thing and doesn't require love. This reaction is fairly typical
of Meursault as portrayed in the book. He appears to be casual and indifferent
about life events. Nothing seems to be very significant to him. Later on
in the book, after he kills an Arab, not once does he show any remorse
or guilt for what he did. Did he really feel nothing? Camus seems to indicate
that Meursault is almost oblivious and totally unruffled and untouched
by events and people around him. He is unwilling to lie, during his trial,
about killing the Arab. His reluctance to get involved in defending himself
results in a verdict of death by guillotine. Had Meursault been engaged
in his defense, explaining his actions, he might have been set free.

Meursault's unresponsive behavior, distant
from any apparent emotions, is probably reinforced by the despair which
he 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's
responses are very different, he doesn't get depressed at death nor does
he 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 be
appealing to others because he is so non-judgmental and uncritical, probably
a result of indifference rather than sympathetic feelings. His limited
involvement might attract some people because an end result of his distance
is 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 with

Meursault. Sintes does not have to justify himself because Meursault doesn't
comment on how Sintes makes money or how he chooses to live his life. Even
though Meursault shows no strong emotions or deep affection, Marie, his
girlfriend, is still attracted and interested in him. She is aware of,
possibly even fascinated by, his indifference. Despite the seemingly negative
qualities of this unemotional man, people nevertheless seem to care for
him.

There are individuals who, because of different
or strange behavior, might be outcasts of society, but find, in spite of
or because of their unconventional behavior, that there are some people
who want to be a part of their lives. Meursault, an asocial person is such
an individual. His behavior, while not antagonistic or truly antisocial,
is distant, yet it does not get in the way of certain relationships. While
there are some people who might find such relationships unsatisfying and
limited, Meursault and those he is connected to seem to be content with
their "friendships". His aloofness, though, may not have saved him from
suffering. It might