Monsieur Meursault: Basic Nihilist or Trapped Sentimentalist?

Throughout Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, it is clear that Meursault lives a painfully neutral life and is emotionally detached from others. Is he truly this basic and plain, or is there some emotion inside of him?

First, it is important to ask if Meursault has always been the way he is now. When Meursault is offered an opportunity to work in Paris from his boss, he is unsurprisingly unenthusiastic. However, we receive some of his own personal insight when he debates changing his life. He recalls that when he was a student, “[he] had lots of ambitions….” (41). Holding any type of ambition contradicts Meursault’s current personality. He most likely was not so emotionless when he was younger….

Occasionally, Meursault will subtly reveal that he cares about what others think. When Meursault and his girlfriend are hanging out with some friends, a character called Masson makes Meursault’s girlfriend laugh “for some reason” in Meursault’s perspective. It seems that Meursault doesn’t know why. Meursault proceeds to believe that “she’d had a little too much to drink” (52). Meursault feels a little bit jealous, and cares that he is not the one making his girlfriend laugh.

Glimmers of Meursault’s emotional connections to others appear throughout The Stranger. When Meursault heard his neighbor crying about his lost dog, he “for some reason [he] thought of his mom” (39). It seems like Meursault feels a bit of remorse for his deceased mother, but something is preventing him from understanding why.

I would argue that Meursault used to be much more emotional, but something caused him to become disconnected from others.

French Smoke

Reading part one of The Stranger, originally written in French by Albert Camus, I noticed the vast amount of smoking mentioned. It is well known that smoking is a culturally historic activity that many French residents and their youths partake in. As a result of Camus’ ability to incorporate a part of French culture in his novel, it has helped provide more insight into the characters’ background and nature. 

To make note of Albert Camus’ consistent mentions of the times Meursault, the narrator, smokes, he writes about a moment where he is hesitant to do so because “[he] didn”t know if [he] could do it with Maman right there” (8). In this moment Meursault is troubled with the decision of being imprudent knowing the conditions of the situation at hand. We can see here that the timely manner at which someone smokes in the story aids in providing a better understanding of a character’s frame of mind.

Typically smoking can be seen as a careless and unconscious activity that one may participate in but in another can be presented as a sign of disrespect. Near the end of the fourth chapter, Meursault’s neighbor, Raymond, is interrupted by a police officer amidst the beating of his mistress saying, “Take that cigarette out of your mouth when you’re talking to me…then the cop slapped him” (36).  Here, the presence of the cigarette dispensed an insulting impression of Raymond to the police officer. We can further infer that smoking has a noticeably large impact in the perception and mutual recognition of us towards others and vice versa. 

Is Meursault a Bad Person?

Meursault clearly sees the world analytically — he is highly observational, he doesn’t express high emotional attachment, and he makes decisions based on what little wants and what he thinks makes sense. This does not mean that he is selfish, in fact, he often acts unselfishly, agreeing to others’ requests even if he gains nothing from completing those requests.

Even though as readers we may judge the lack of attachment, ambition, or emotional understanding expressed by Meursault, this itself does not make him a bad person. It is simply a different view of life. Where this becomes tricky is how Meursault’s incapability to emotionally connect with others affect his decision making and relationships with others. 

For example, Meursault seems to be emotionally abusive to Marie. When she asks him if he loves her, he bluntly responds, “It didn’t mean anything but I probably didn’t love her” (41). Such a harsh answer seems like a horrible thing to say, and it is evident that he doesn’t really care for her on a deep level, even though she expresses a desire to be cared about. But, even though he can treat Marie poorly like this, he still respects her decision making in the sense that he won’t consciously try to hurt her, and if she left him for being hurtful then he would let her. Therefore, if Marie is hurt, it is partly her fault too, for allowing herself to be hurt. This definitely does not make Meursault’s treatment of Marie okay, but the complexity behind it means that it does not make him a fully bad person, just a flawed one.

Similar logic can be applied to many other of Meursault’s actions, such as agreeing to help Raymond abuse his girlfriend, turning a blind eye to his neighbor’s treatment of the dog, and even when he killed the man on the beach. Not one of these times did he do these things in an attempt to be hurtful, which would theoretically make him a flawed person. However, this argument must be used carefully. The difference in these situations and Marie is the agency of the other person involved. Unlike Marie, the girlfriend could not choose not to be abused. The dog cannot freely escape his owner. The man could not decide not to be shot. It is here where Meursault’s inability to empathize becomes not just a flaw but something that makes him a bad person. 

I conclude that Meursault is a bad person in the sense that he is the sole contributor of harm caused to other people. Of course, the definition of “bad person” can be slippery, depending on one’s own interpretation of the meaning. It follows that this would change the nature of the conclusion on whether Meursault is or is not a bad person.

Meursault’s Actions, Nature of The Sun, and Free Will

I do not believe that Meursault’s character simply exists to be observed as a sociopathic, apathetic, and reprehensible individual, but rather an indivual afflicted with a condition that anyone is subject to when put in a certain situation: the realization of a lack of control. Meursault understands his lack of control, this universal lack of control, and so he lives his life as he does, as an indifferent, but rather content individual. He is content in this fact, in this knowledge that he is powerless. It is comforting to believe oneself to be free from concious impulse, accountability, or reasonable judgement. For if one lacks control, no rational individual can cast judgement on one who does not have any ability to control themselves. This person sans control is consigned to a societal outcast, just as Meursault is. I believe that Meursault believes and finds comfort in his understanding of his lack of control and his rational conclusion that he is impervious to any blame and how this allows for him to live a fulfilling and content life.

Meursault is subject only to nuture and nature, just as we all are. He has no control over his indifference, that is how he is. He has no control over his experience or reaction to the sun. He has no control over the thoughts that pop into his head, just as we do not, as what manifests itself in one’s mind, even though one may claim thoughts to be one’s own, are not created by a concious choice. His nurture, the death of his mother, his childhood, are all out of his control. His reaction to these events, or any event, is not by choice. His character is formed by phenomena outside of his control and his response to phenomena are governed by his thoughts, and as thoughts arise in ones mind, not through will, but by the whim of a mind conditioned by phenomenal experience, Meursault has no free will, just as we all do not. Meursault is no difference than us, he just accepts this lack of control. He does not attempt to pretend that he has control, as many of us claim to. The only difference between us and Meursault, is that we have not accepted that life is not in our control. Meursault has. If Meursault had a choice, would he have shot the Arab, as this, of course, will probably cause him great trouble in the future? Does the word choice of “[t]he trigger gave” (59) imply any sense of agency in Meursault? No, it does not. The sun is a natural occurrence, and how we can hope to have any control over the sun? We cannot control the sun, we cannot control that we are prone to follow its cycle to rest and rise. We are condemned to follow nature, which we cannot control. The sun in the story is a representation of untamable nature and its effects on us, and is therefore the antithesis of free will.

And so, I believe the sun made Meursault shoot the Arab. And I believe the sun is uncontrollable nature, and so it is the antithesis of free will. I believe that the only difference between us and Meursault is how much agency we believe that we have. And while many would argue that a lack of free will strips meaning from life, Meursault’s indifference to this fact is precisely what allows him to live contently, to enjoy life, and to live fully. While Meursault may not consiously understand this fact, I believe that he unconsiouly understands that he is not in control of his life, and this is what frees him from the hardships of life. And finally, this is why I believe many people in our class believe that Meursault is a societal outcast, when he is in the very same scenario that we are all in, subject to the same whims of nature which cannot be controlled.

A Dog is not a Man’s Best Friend

Throughout Part 1 of The Stranger, Meursault describes how his neighbor, Salamano, treats his dog. Salamano’s dog is old and mistreated, and we see this as he repeatedly curses at his dog, screaming “Flithy, stinking bastard!”(27). On top of that, Salamano also beats his dog for the same reasons, as Meursault notes he “beats the dog and swears at it”(27). It is apparent to the reader Salamano treats his dog inhumanely, simply because the dog is old, revealing Salamano’s unreasonable and controlling tendencies.

Similar behavior can be seen through Raymond, another one of Meursault’s neighbors. When talking with Meursault, Raymond says his girlfriend had an allowance of twenty Francs a day, which is not too much money in this time period. However, Raymond found a lottery ticket in her purse, which she apparently pawned bracelets for, and Raymond assumed she was cheating for having bracelets he didn’t give her. As a result of this, Raymond beat his girlfriend more than once, getting the police involved the second time, for no apparent reason. Raymond even says “I’d smack her around a little, but nice-like, you might say. … But this time it’s for real. And if you ask me, she still hasn’t got what she has coming”(31). The reason seems to be because she is a woman and he is exerting power over her, and Raymond’s sexist and controlling tendencies are revealed.

Both Raymond and Salamano are similar as they punish the people and animals closest to them, as Salamano punishes his dog and Raymond his girlfriend, for seemingly no reason. On top of that, they both lost these people and animals at the same time, as Salamano’s dog went missing and Raymond’s girlfriend ran away from him. This builds a connection between the two characters and their lives, as they both exert their physical dominance on those weaker than them. This foreshadows these characters will live similar lives in their respective situations.

Emotional Disconnect

In the novel, The Stranger by Albert Campus, the narrator, Meursault, is continuously depicted as non-feeling and lacking emotion. On multiple occasions where one would normally be upset, Meursault displays absolutely no reaction to the situation. We first see this in the reaction to his mothers death, “It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that , really, nothing had changed” (24). He seems to have no opinoin on anything throughout the story and he has this attitude that nothing matters. His lack of emtion becomes more concerning as it begins to upset other people.

Marie, the girl he has been involved with throughout the story, asks him if he would like to marry her and his response is “It didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” (41), he also says that he “probably didn’t love her” (41). Marie is obviously upset by this and very confused. Meursault seems extremely disconnected from the world around him, almost as if he view it as a separate thing altogether that has no effect on him. His lack of emotional response to anything throughout the story makes me wonder what could have possibly caused him to become this far disconnected emotional from his relationships.

He eludes to his time of realization that nothing matters by saying “When I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered” (41). This makes me wonder what crushed his previously present ambition? What caused him to mentally separate himself from society? He also speaks of having no dissatisfaction with life, but also having no happiness in it. He almost seems as if he has become so separated from society and connection that he is just watching as his body moves through life, not actively encouraging or opposing events.

Robot Lady Dines-In

In The Stranger, a strange woman entered Celeste’s and asked Meursault to sit with him. She was quite peculiar and described as having “robotlike movements” (43). Her actions serve as a foil to Meursault’s character.

The robot lady was very driven, quick-moving, and meticulous. She “studied the menu feverishly” and ordered in a “clear and very fast” voice (43). She had a no-nonsense attitude, getting straight to the point. She wasted no time between meals by checking off radio programs “one by one, and with great care” (43). She so deeply cared about checking off the radio programs and then proceeded to continue on with her life with “incredible speed and assurance.”

Meanwhile, Meursault’s character is the opposite. He is passive, soft-spoken, and unmotivated. When asked to move to Paris, he claimed he “wasn’t dissatisfied with [his current life]” and “had no ambition” (41). He does what other people tell him to do and has very little free thought of his own. He would rather stay stagnant than pursue satisfaction. He does not even find passion when being proposed to. He was indifferent and his reasoning for getting married was simply because Marie had wanted to.

yThe robot lady is assertive while Meursault is passive. The robot lady preemptively added up her dinner bill and placed the cash on the table (43). Meursault does whatever other people tell him to do. He prioritizes practicality over happiness. He accepted Raymond’s dinner invitation only so he wouldn’t have to cook for himself (28).

Meursault begins to display motivation and interest by following the robot lady for a while after she left the restaurant. Although this change in character was short lived as he regressed to his old ways and “forgot about her a few minutes later” (44). Maybe Meursault is right: “people never change their lives” (41).

Relationships/Social Unawareness

In the novel, The Stranger by Albert Camus the the narrator, Meursault, is in a relationship with a woman named Marie who he explains is someone he cares for deeply, however does not seem to show any emotion when it comes to their relationship. After witnessing Raymond (Meursault neighbor) physically and verbally abuse a woman whom Raymond thought was cheating, Marie, “wasn’t hungry; I [Meursault] ate almost everything” (37). He seems to be unaware of the importance of that just happened and is almost unbothered by this.

Meursault also refuses to express much emotion, no matter the situation and seems as though he cannot think for himself. After having dinner with Marie one night, she suddenly asks Meursault to marry her, to which he explains that, “…it didn’t make any difference to me and that we would if she wanted. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her. ‘So why marry me, then?’ she said. I explained to her that it didn’t really matter and that if she wanted to, we could get married” (41). Meursault does not seem to care whether he marries Marie which, realistically, is a huge deal. He repeats the similar phrases, “it didn’t make a difference to me” or “it didn’t mean anything” which shows his lack for involvement in both his relationship and everyday life. With something has large as marriage typically someone would be either nervous or ecstatic but he is neither of those.

Lastly, Meursault shows little emotional connection to Marie, by only really describing her physical characteristics and also that Meursault doesn’t show any emotion ever. When Meursault, Marie, and Raymond decide to go to the beach on a warm Sunday to meet one of Raymond’s friends, Marie invites Meursault into the water with her, when he explains, “We ran and threw ourselves into the first little waves. We swam a few strokes and she reached out and held onto me. I felt her legs wrapped around mine and I wanted her” (51). This is not the first time he has explain something about Marie and then afterwards explains that he wants her. He consistently only describes her physical appearance and wants to just have sex with her, he doesn’t really ever explain her personality or another reason he’s with her other than her physical appearance.

Meursault and the Sky

So far, throughout Part 1 of The Stranger, Meursault describes the sky above him most often as something that brings him dread. In chapter 1, Meursault states, “The glare from the sun was unbearable” (page 16). Also near the end of Part 1 he mentions, “The sun was the same as it had been the day I buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me…” (page 58). It’s a pattern for Meursault to be bothered by the sun physically, but the sun also reminds him of solemn events such as his mother’s funeral.

Meursault also uses the sky, intentionally or not, to foreshadow another grave event. He describes the sky as having “the same dazzling red glare” (57), and as a result of this glare, “the blazing sand looked red to [him]” (53). He foreshadows how the sand on the beach went from looking red because of the blazing sun to actually becoming red, from both the blood of Masson’s stab wound and the gunshot wounds of the Arab man who was after Raymond. As we continue to read onto Part 2, I’m curious as to how the sky will continue to affect Meursault and if a deeper meaning of the sky will continue to form.

Heat of the Moment

The first part of The Stranger by Albert Camus moved really slowly, it seemed to have no plot direction. This was very deceiving. It wasn’t until you finished the last page that you realize a lot is going on throughout the story that you didn’t see. I really appreciated how Camus used the sun and heat to demonstrate the narrator’s emotional processing of his mother’s death. It is described as a ever-present, oppressive force at different phases of the novel. Particularly interesting is how the narrator becomes tired, often falling asleep or wishing to be in his bed when he is in the heat for an extended period of time. I understood this detail to represent how exhausting processing trauma or loss can be. While Mersault is describing his mundane life, small details are revealed that clue the reader into to his spiraling mental state. But the most obvious is his growing dislike for the “heat”. At the climax of part one, the heat, or the narrator’s unfinished feelings towards his mother’s death (whether guilt, grief, anger I can’t tell yet), become “unbearable”. “The sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me, all the veins in it throbbing under the skin. It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward” (pg. 59). This abnormal reaction is not simply talking about temperature or physical discomfort. His trauma hangs so heavily over him that his veins throb and his skin burns. I think that Mersault manifests these discomforts in the form of an uncomfortable Algerian sun, so he doesn’t confront them. This explains his homicidal actions in the paragraphs following this passage. Because he is only processing his emotions through the oppressive heat, he believes an escape from the sun will result in an escape from emotions. He sees the shade and water spray of the rocks as an escape, even if a brief one. But the man is lying there and preventing his escape. A desperate Mersault, already losing touch, loses control in this portion and in the “heat” of the moment he kills what he perceives as something of a threat.

Exposed to the Sun

In The Stranger, the sun and weather is a common occurrence in Camus’ writing. In the context of Maman’s funeral, “The sun was beginning to bear down on the earth and it was getting hotter by the minute… I was surprised at how fast the sun was climbing in the sky… The glare from the sky was unbearable,” (15, 16). Usually, the sun is used with a positive connotation, representing happiness, a bright future, etc. The uncommon use of a negative connotation for the sun in the second chapter correlates with the funeral occurring.

The climax of Part One of The Stranger occurs when Mersault is on the beach. And guess what? The sun is brought up again, “By now the sun was overpowering. It shattered into little pieces on the sand and water,” (55). The sun seems to be brought up in Mersault’s internal monologue when something bad is about to happen. It’s introduced at Maman’s funeral, and then mentioned again as the breaking point before Mersault shoots the Arab man at the beach.

From both contexts, I think the sun acts as a perpetrator to the negative occurrences and sets off Mersault in spiraling mood swings and thought processes.

The Weather Affect

Upon hearing news of his mother’s death, Meursault is dispassionate and nonchalant, as if he’s heard of a poor weather forecast for the upcoming weekend that may inconvenience his plans. “Maman died today” (3).

Throughout the first chapters of the novel, the sun is a symbol for the feelings and emotions, which Meursault cannot deal with. The sun becomes a distraction from Meursault’s everyday life and he cannot handle it. It first presents a problem to Meursault at his mother’s funeral.

The weather during the funeral had been beautiful, keeping a neutral tone on Meursault and he felt no grief or sadness. However, once the funeral procession began to walk the “glare from the sky was unbearable” (16). It was very hot and bright, which made him drowsy and showed how he was disinterested in the funeral and bored.

Again the sun makes another appearance towards the end of chapter six, it is the sun shining in his eyes that allegedly motivates Meursault to murder the Arab man. The sun’s heat and glare are enough for Meursault to kill a man, just as in the whole of life, there is no greater meaning there. Ultimately, the sun appears to encourage Meursault, who is already a rather passive fellow, to begin with, to react to the world with the same indifference as reality itself.

Ironically, heat becomes associated with death and the absurdity of life in general.

Mersault Costanza

A story about nothing? Well, not really. He just made me think of George when he complained that there was only “one roller towel” to last all day in the bathroom where he works (25). In truth, there is complexity and oddity to be found in all of Mersault’s relationships, particularly with Salamano, his neighbor.

The conversation that Mersault has with Salamano after Salamano loses his dog was the most compelling moment of the story for me, where I felt most immersed in this world with human beings. For much of the story preceding that I had difficulty sensing any strong feeling from the narrator. Even though his apathy towards life is truly human and this should not be dismissed as a boring story due to the boring nature of the world, this was the first point where I really felt lost in the world of The Stranger.

“When she died he had been very lonely. So he asked a shop buddy for a dog and he’d gotten this one very young…they had grown old together”(44-45). Mersault yawns after this, while I’m stricken with grief for this man’s loss, and he says that he is “sorry about what happened,” and I still felt after that that even though I had been profoundly affected by the old man’s story, Mersault was not affected at all, and through that, his character continues to take shape. Perhaps it is not that the story is about nothing, but that the narrator is not interested in finding meaning within his life, and is content to continue living a life of no substance.

Is Marie a Foil or Just Woman?

I found the character Marie to be very interesting throughout the first part of The Stranger. She is a woman who comes into Meursault’s life at first through a purely physical connection, but they seem to spend more and more time together.

So far, I have been unable to figure out the purpose of her character. At times I have thought she was a possible foil for Meursault. Marie seems to exude emotion and joy at all times. She is consistently described as “laughing” after almost anything Meursault says. Furthermore, she seems to be the ultra emotional to his emotionless, even asking Meursault if he wants to “marry her” or if he “loved her” after only a few days together. This all could support the argument that Marie’s character is there to remind us just how apathetic Meursault is through her exuberance and overflowing feelings.

That being said, The Stranger was also written in the 1940’s, a time when most women were considered overly emotional and irrational. I think it is especially important to note that this book was written by a man and through the perspective of a man, so as an audience we are seeing Marie through a “double” male gaze. Thus, when reading I found myself wondering if the character of Marie was trying to comment on Meursault’s personality, or if she was just a representation of what men thought women were at the time.

Is it Better to Not Care?

Meursault is a person who doesn’t give much thought to anything, not even his girlfriend. Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her and he simply responds with “We could if she wanted to” (41). Mearsault lives his life without doing anything of any substance and somehow get himself into dramatic situations. He never has an opinion about anything, always going with whatever the other party says should happen.

So is it better to not care about your own life? Is it better to never have to worry about your own opinion or anyone else’s because you simply don’t care enough? More specifically, does Meursault not care about life choices because he really has no opinion or does he just lack the energy to fight back or did he never even develop a sense of things he actually cares about? I wish to figure out this book.

Why Her?

Meursault has already been introduced as a rather odd character. I have never read a book told in first person that had the lack of passion, thought process and emotion as this book does so far. Because of Meursault’s lack of passion towards himself as well as others, makes most of his relationships seem one sided. He is there for that person and they are not their for him, he doesn’t necessarily enjoy their presence but they enjoy his. Specifically his relationships with his two male neighbors. When no questions asked Meursault helps Raymond write a letter to his ex and testifies in court for him. Or when Salamano’s dog died, he went to Meursault for reasurance. Why does Meursault’s lack of passion attract passionate people?

Their is one relationship in particular that seems to be the other way around. That is his relationship with Marie. From just these first few chapters Marie and Meursault’s relationship has grown tremendously. It started out as just a sexual relationship, then some pages later they are discussing marriage- “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it did not make any difference to me” (41). Yet again Meursault is attracting passionate people. But in this situation some of this passion seems to rub off on him as he thinks to himself, “For no apparent reason, she laughed in such a way that I kissed her” (35 ). Although Meursault describes this scene in a very bland way, he is showing passion without being asked. He is showing passion because he wants to. What about his relationship with Marie makes it different from all the other relationships in his life

Initial Thoughts On The Stranger

In chapters 1-3 of The Stranger we begin to see the type of person that Meursault is. This is mainly done through the interactions that he has with other characters. One part that really struck me was how submissive Meursault is and how he is unable to stand up for himself. He does things because they are easy for him and not because they are the right thing to do. For example, he is apologetic towards his boss for having to take two days off for his mothers funeral. When he sees that his boss is not happy about Meursault taking days off, he says “‘It’s not my fault.'” I thought that it was odd that he was saying sorry to his boss when he is using that time to attend the funeral of his mother.

He does not stand up for himself and later in the story, he tries to understand why his boss was upset at him taking time off. “And, naturally, my boss thought about the fact that I’d be getting four days’ vacation that way, including Sunday, and he couldn’t have been happy about that” (19). He makes excuses for his bosses behavior and accepts his bosses belief as the right one. I found it interesting how compliant Meursault is and how he does not defend himself but instead apologizes.

Poor Salamano

Salamano is a pretty minor part of the book, but I still really felt bad for him when he lost his dog. I just have to wonder what he represents. the obvious go-to is about how he beats his dog even though he clearly loves the poor thing , but I have a feeling it means more than that. At the same time I don’t know quite what. I have a suspicion it has to do with how they look sorta similar, as Meursault points out on page 27. perhaps in an esoteric sense, the dog is an extension of Salamano, which it is narrattively, Salamano is never brought up when not in relation to his dog. the book also mentioned that as they’e existed around each other for so long, they begin to look like each other. This further adds to the fact that, at least as far as the book is concerned, one is nothing without the other.

Salamano and His Companion

Throughout the progression of part one of The Stranger, it becomes clear that the protagonist Meursault does not experience human in emotions in the same way they are typically presented.

This trend become particular clear when Meursault is repeatedly asked by his partner Marie whether or not he loves her. This question it met by a response of, “it [love] didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her.” This conversation that surfaces twice in the first part of the story illustrates Meursault’s indifference towards human emotion. While he doesn’t explicitly expression a distain from love, he clearly demonstrates that, for him, love is insignificant.

What I find most interesting about the book so far is how the relationships Meursault observes reflects his own view on intimacy. This dynamic is most prevalent in Salamano relationship with his dog. When the two are first introduced in the story, it is clear that they share a tumultuous relationship which most outsiders view as abusive. When Celeste voice that he finds the relationship, “pitiful,” Meursault internally disagrees and voices passive indifference. Later in the story, when Salamano is emotion distress after losing his dog, he reaches out to Meursault asking whether he believes his dog will be returned to him. Rather then comfort the old man, Meursault’s response is clear and calculate, expressing that ponds only, “kept the dogs for three days, then after that they did with them what they saw fit.” Both of the instances illustrate that Meursault view on emotional relationships is detached from any sort of empathy. He therefor places very little regard on his own relationships, resigning himself to little emotional intimacy.

Initial Thoughts

At this point in the story, I am having a hard time figuring out how old Meursault is. Although a man, living on his own, out of school with a steady job, there is one scene in particular that has me perplexed. At the beginning of Chapter 3 when Meursault is back at work, he decides to take a break one day with his coworker, Emmanuel. Out of nowhere, (to me, at least), Meursault is sprinting towards a moving truck, getting “engulfed by the noise and the dust” (25). Soon enough, he takes a “flying leap,” he helps Emmanuel on, and they arrive at Celeste’s “dripping with sweat” (26). Compared to his dull, unemotional, detached character that he portrays throughout the story with both his internal and external monologue, it was a shock to me when the author included this sporadic act… which is why when I thought I had an idea of how old he was, I soon retracted.