Why Do I Empathize With Meursault?

When I began this novella, I had an eerie feeling in my stomach. I could tell that something was disconnected about Meursault, but I was starting to wonder if there was something off with me. The problem was, I felt bad for Meursault. Even after his heinous murder, I felt a twinge of remorse for him. In his sun saturated state, I recognized the isolation of his character. After finishing part one, I was ready for a dynamic class conversation. I found it frightening that I kept coming to the aid of Meursault. I blatantly was defending him. How could I be so defensive of a character who had vouched for someone who had physically abused their partner? How could I defend someone who took the life of another without a second thought? How could I like a character who was more alarmed by the beads of sweat on his forehead rather than the passing of his own mother? I believe this sympathetic view didn’t stem from being an internalized sociopath, but instead emerged from something much different. At least I hope…

I honestly was jealous of Meursault’s carefree attitude. I began to empathize with him. Meursault was not confined by any social systems. He acted on his own pure will. High school students specifically are controlled by an array of power systems. Students have to conform to social standards that have been created by some unnamed force. At the same time, we are expected to pursue secondary education and find steady employment. We are expected to make all of these major life decisions as mere teenagers. Though only a few years ago, we weren’t allowed to operate a vehicle or even see a rated R movie on our own. The Stranger is such an impactful book to read in high school, because the absurdity of life that Camus recognized, seems to be bursting from the seems here. I will never concede that Meursault is a hero, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t learn from Camus’ message. My sympathy for Meursault is due to his understanding of life’s absurdity. Part of me believes his death represents the death of the greater population of individuals who died as outcasts of society. The other part of me recognizes the literal reasons for his death. Needless to say, I find my emotions toward Meursault frustrating and conflicting. Who knows, maybe I’m just a borderline sociopath.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s