No Tears?

The first line of The Stranger, written by Albert Camus is “Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. ” The initial reaction to this is to assume Meursault is a cold man, who had an estranged relationship with his mother. Which, is a bold assumption to make only two sentences into the book, however as the book narrates through the events leading up to the funeral and after the author makes it clear that Meursault isn’t as cold as he appears.

Meursault lost his mother but on the day of her funeral all he could think about was the sun. He thought about the location of the sun and the heat beating down on the funeral party. Meursault didn’t cry or shed a tear on the days leading up to and after the funeral which some people find strange but I don’t think you have to cry if something is sad. It is clear that he is not the traditional man as the book continues, but I think him not crying isn’t something that makes him cold. There are many different ways people grieve lost ones and there is not right or wrong way to do so. When Meursault arrives home he says “I wander around the apartment. It was just the right size when Maman was here. Now its too big for me,” this thought shows us that he did enjoy life with his mom and feels that there is a sort of emptiness in his life with her absent. Despite all of his coldness and little knowledge of his mothers life in the home he stilled loved her and was divested when she died, which shows the reader a soft side to him.

2 thoughts on “No Tears?

  1. Tim M

    Though I don’t think this is the primary intention of your analysis, the way you specifically phrased how Meursault initially seems to be a “cold man” and is later shown to have a preoccupation with the blindingly hot sun made me think about the role that temperature seems to play in this story, which I hadn’t thought about before. The juxtaposition of a seemingly cold man who faces extreme heat is almost like Camus is trying to say as explicitly as possible without interrupting the story that Meursault is not as “cold” as he may seem.

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  2. Matthias M.

    I really love the focus on the first sentance of the story. Like with so many other things first impressions are what stick so often with people and even through we learn about Meursault throughout the story the fact that he seems to not care about his mother sticks with one and it constantly came back to me while I was reading the story, as if it affected everything. He doesn’t care about his mom I guess hes a bad person and so my. view of Meursault has been tinted forever.

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