Albert Camus discussion

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Who is the real stranger?

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message 1: by Leonard (new)

Leonard (leonardseet) Meursault, an alien not of France or Algeria but of the world, shot the Arab and after the man had fallen, pumped four more bullets into the body. The sun made him do it just as if El Nino toppled the financial markets and urge disgruntle employees to shoot their colleagues and managers. He showed the same nonchalance toward a possible promotion, his mother’s death, his making love with Marie the first time, his neighbor Salamano’s beating the dog, and his friend Raymond’s beating his wife as toward killing the Arab. During the trial, contrary the social convention he offered no convincing motive and refused to defend himself against he crime.

To prevent him from contaminating society, from spreading meaninglessness and detachment to others, the jury found him guilty of callousness and condemned him to death for being a stranger to his mother, his lover, his friends, moral codes, social norms, and cultural conventions.

For the generation after WWII, for the survivors after the stench of Hitler and Stalin and the taste of Aushwitz, Nanjing and Hiroshima, what could be more seductive than embracing absurdity and thrashing humanity?

Nineteenth century optimism had crashed into a stonewall; utopia had metamorphosed into the Holocaust; the unlimited possibilities of reason, science and humanity had created the machine guns, the gas chambers, and the atomic bombs. Stranger, welcome to the brave new world!

Just as a starving child would ignore Zeno’s problem or Fermat’s Last Theorem, so a stranger would neglect the alien faces and tunes, desiring to smell his home soil, to shake his kinsmen’s hands and to hug his “ground of being.” In an absurd world, moral, social and cultural contracts would appear frivolous and irrelevant, and those who had feasted upon absurdity may view the world with a different pair of colored glasses and appreciate the Meursault’s methodic actions and orderly world.

When you are among lunatics accusing you of being insane, can you maintain your sanity? What is absurdity but a relative evaluation based on preconceived and accepted norms. Who really is the stranger in the world, Meursault or Marie or the prosecutor or the magistrate or the chaplain?


message 2: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey | 11 comments I believe the brilliance to the book resides in its not making any judgment. It raises questions but the only one it answers is Meursault`s role as a stranger. He may be a stranger to society, but by the end of the novel, he comes to an understanding as to his cosmological role in the universe, an uncaring one which matches his one indifference. So now, he is no longer a stranger.

The cosmological aspect of the novel`s ending is one repeated critics neglect to mention, discuss, ruminate over. It, however, is most essential to the understanding of the novel. For this is Meursault`s solace, his pacifier to any distraught rebellion to his fate, as he sees it with a philosophical resignation.


message 3: by Leonard (new)

Leonard (leonardseet) Geoffrey wrote: "I believe the brilliance to the book resides in its not making any judgment. It raises questions but the only one it answers is Meursault`s role as a stranger. He may be a stranger to society, but ..."

Geoffrey,

Yes, Meursault's indifference matching the universe's indifference makes him no longer a stranger. The individual's nature relative the environment (social, cultural, political) defines his/her normalcy, sanity, etc. Usually most individuals adapt to the environment so they appear "normal."


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