Is Meursault Really All That Bad?

When I read the first few infamous lines of The Stranger by Albert Camus, I took Meursault for a boring character. I stated in my thesis, only based on the beginning four pages, “In Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, he depicts the narrator, Meursault, as lackluster and having a dull approach to society.¨ A Lot of my stance prevails, he’s not expressive or very interested in others, but today as my classmates argue his nature negatively and almost describes him sociopathically, I had trouble not intervening. 

My newest interpretation of the narrator is that he struggles to feel comfortable confronting his emotions and avoids the vulnerability it brings. He is not the cold man others see him for.

  His reaction to his mothers’ death is the basis for much of his negative connotation and the first impression the reader gets of him.  However, there is a hidden emotion in this relationship. His resistance to opening the casket is because he earlier states “For now, it’s almost like Maman weren’t dead. After the funeral, though, the case will be closed, and  everything will have an official feel to it,”(3) and so he didn’t want to see her, to dodge the weight of her death. He later demonstrates signs of missing her that were neglected in the discussion amongst my classmates, ¨It was just the right size when Maman was here. Now it’s too big for me…¨(21) and he  “ate standing up,” (24) which I interpreted a being uncomfortable without her presence. 

Additionally, the Sunday after he got back home he sits the entire day watching the passersby, he alludes to the fact that this is how his Sundays are but the next Sunday he is much more active. This can be interpreted as an indication of mourning.  

We see a more lively bit of Meursault’s nature, with Marie at the beach, it is the first time we see him initiate human interaction. As the novel progresses we watch him become more opinionated and care for others (or be less indifferent)  in the internal dialogue about Marie  Stating “Marie told me I hadn’t kissed her since this morning. It was true, and yet I wanted to” (51) and other statements along those lines. He also follows Raymond to the beach, exhibiting concern for his new friend. 

While he is not very opinionated, it is clear that he is not as odd as he is depicted. This is only my perspective now, considering the ending of part one of the novel, I am almost positive my views on Meursault as a character will change again as his character adapts to his new circumstances.

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