The story The Stranger by Albert Camus introduces a character named Meursault, who some could argue is just passing through life and not caring about the attributes such as love, religion and family that people would say makes life worth living. In the story, there is a constant mention of the sun. The sun’s brightness and heat seems to be described in key moments, such as Meursault’s mother’s funeral and the moment on the beach where he decided to go back to the man that was following Raymond. The sun acts as a spotlight on this emotionless, empty character to face reality. It seems as if Meursault makes all his key decisions because of the blinding of the sun beating down on him. It’s inescapable, (unlike everything else in his life.) Meursault felt trapped by the sun’s beams : ” …”Strained every nerve in order to overcome the sun and the thick drunkenness it was spilling over me”(57). The sun’s power allows Meursault to shoot and kill the man. In the beginning of the story, there are multiple mentions of the brightness of the room Meursault was sitting in with his mother’s friends mourning her. The lights and sun makes him see the world in its real light. He sees his mothers friends sad over her in that moment, as well as makes a decision to kill the man on the beach under the spotlight of the light. He can’t hide from it, its always present over him. Kind of like society’s norms and expectations on what makes live worth living.
4 thoughts on “The Sun: Meursault’s Spotlight”
I agree that the sun is used to force Meursault to see the world around him in difficult times. I also believe he is using the sun to try to show his emotions. Meursault narrates the story but only talks about physical feelings like touch, hunger, or wanting to smoke a cigarette. The sun could be a way for him to explain to the reader that he is feeling distressed and sad while still avoiding talking about his actual emotions.
This is a really interesting approach to the sun as a motif in the story and I have never thought of it this way. It is almost like the sun clouds all of his judgment in difficult times and that is why he commits the actions he does. And due to the sun beating down on him he is so focused on the heat he is enduring and that effect on him his mind can’t focus or show emotion for anything else like Marie asking him to marry her or his mother’s death.
I think comparing the sun to a spotlight is very clever. A lot of major life choices/big things that happen occur while the sun is shining on him. I really like how you mentioned if he is making all of his life choices when the sun is beating down, it’s inescapable. As an existentialist, Meursault does not see his decisions as bad or good. He doesn’t pay any attention to society’s norms, but he might have to because just like the sun, it may be impossible to escape them.
I also think that the spotlight metaphor is clever. However I think there is more to it than that though, I think the sun might also be a metaphor for his emotions. Throughout the story he shows no emotions but in times that should cause him great emotional stress he turns and instead talks about how the sun makes hime feel uncomfortable. I think the sun beating down on him could be a metaphor for his suppressed emotions.