Meursault’s Moments of Sanity

A few chapters into the book, a thought, or rather a question, occurred to me. What if Meursault is a relatively normal character who is just written more truthfully than others? To put it more clearly, maybe Meursault is the only sane character in the story. As this isn’t the kind of topic with a definitive answer, I find it difficult to argue my point. Nevertheless, I will try.

Meursault seems, at least to me, to have a strong grip on or acceptance of reality. He tends not to complain about the cards he is dealt, as he realizes quite early on that he cannot do anything about them. For example, Meursault accepts his prison punishment relatively fast. One of his prison guards even points this out to him, saying, “[Y]ou see, you understand these things. The rest of them don’t” (78). We see this again in Meursault’s response to his problem of “killing time” (78). He mentions that, “apart from these annoyances,” by which he means his punishments, “I wasn’t too unhappy” (78). He cured his boredom by traveling back to his apartment by way of his memories, remembering, “every piece of furniture; and of every object, all the details; and of the details themselves–a flake, a crack, or a chipped edge” (79). This recollection process keeps him quite occupied and brings him to realize that, “a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison” (79).

To me, what others see as Meursault’s disconnection from reality, is just his acknowledgment that life must be taken as it comes, and that one must make the most of their given situation.

Mr. Blank Face

It clear to see that through out the first part of The Stranger, Meursalt is shown to be a man lacking emotion and a man who is lacking social ques, but I don´t think it is because he is an introverted person and or is shy. Throughout Meursalt´s language and his tone when talking to others never shows shyness. Overall I think that is just the type of person he is. Maybe past experiences or something of that nature caused the emotional withdraw but it is clear that Meursalt despises showing actual emotion and would rather answer in one/two word responses. One of these examples of this has to be his emotion surrounding his mothers death. He is so lackadaisical when in reality his mother is dead and the way he acts is really not typical at all. You can see this when he is talking to the director of the home when Meursalt says things like ¨ The director spoke to me again, but I wasn´t really listening anymore¨. Another example of this emotional detachment is when it comes time to see his mother. The director says ¨ I am supposed to unscrew her casket so you can see her¨, Mersalt quickly follows that up with a hard ¨no¨. This is quite weird that he does not want to see his mom at all after she had just passed. It clearly shows Meursalt´s emotional detachment and shows how disconnected he really is from society.

Meursault or Sisyphus?

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, there is a very distinct parallel between “The Myth of Sisyphus” and The Stranger. The timing of this discovery has helped my understanding of not only the evolution of this story, but life in general, too. Over the weekend I not only learned who Sisyphus was, but I discovered that he was happy because he was aware. He was conscious of his situation and he was realistic about the hope he carried with him throughout. Therefore, every time he walked back down the hill, it was in that moment that he could reinvigorate his superiority. That is where he had power, even in a situation where his “whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.”

Similarly, while waiting in his cell for the day of his execution, Meursault spends his time awake thinking of his appeal. He always begins by “assuming the worst” (114). That is, he considers how his life will go when there is simply no escape from his execution. And, although frightening to him, that is where Meursault seems to be able to find peace and clarity with the outcome. When his hope ceases and he stops giving himself any benefit of the doubt… that is when his journey towards indifference begins: “As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world” (122).

Sisyphus (AKA Mr.Heidkamp)

As the new school year rolls around students prepare their school supplies and teachers are prepare their curriculum. We all began the year expecting to be informed on the subjects we find ourselves in by the end of the year. And every single year we start back at the beginning, longing to become more educated in more subjects. For teachers their systems are almost the same, starting the year with students uneducated on their specialty, ready to help them become masters by the end. But for teachers this becomes more repetitive, while us students come in ready to learn a new subject every year, the teachers are stuck with the same subject. Each years students are like a photo copy of the last, just with a few name changes.

Sisyphus is constantly met with a challenge that he knows how to complete, but the outcome is not consistent. Along with teachers, when Sisyphus reaches the top of the mountain, like a teacher reaches the end of the school year they, have a feeling of accomplishment. They have gone through the obstacles it takes to get to the end. What keeps them going is the fall of the boulder, the beginning of a new year, refreshing everything they have worked for, for another chance of success. They say Sisyphus was the happiest man, maybe this is why teachers are the happiest people.

Red Pill or Blue Pill?

What does it mean to be real? According to the concept of existentialism, all our material objects and worldly attachments are all mere illusions that cloud the true meaning of life. All these social constructs have been created through struggles of power and wealth and have been maintained in our society to control people. In the absence of some of these constructs, perhaps the world would be a better place, but is there not value in some of these things that Camus and other existentialists call illusions?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you were to take the leap of faith and believe fully in the values of existentialism. You would leave the world behind and say goodbye to your family, friends, and possessions, and live purely independently. If you lived free of outside perspective and societal pressures, you would probably be happy. However, I argue that we have been conditioned to live in our illusion of a society, and the existentialist lifestyle would not be very appealing. Would the happiness come from working hard and living an independent fulfilling life, or would it come from the fact that you are not living in an illusion anymore. In other words, is it better to be blissfully ignorant, or suffering in a life that is real? In the end, if life is really whatever you make it to be, as Camus says, then who is to say which is the real world and which is the illusion.

The Matrix's Red Pill Is the Internet's Delusional Drug

Should We All Prepare To Be Guilty?

In The Stranger, a novel written by French author Albert Camus and translated by Matthew Ward, the main character is on trial for the murder of an Arab by multiple gunshot wounds. This character, Meursault, is ultimately found guilty, which is no surprise to him as he confirms the accounts of his murder. However, the verdict of the death penalty comes to him with complete shock, shaking him more than the murder itself. As he waits in his cell for his death, he finally begins to feel intense emotions that are absent in the rest of his narration. Though one would expect a dead man’s emotions to be that of remorse, sorrow, or fear, Meursault’s first intense emotion is regret over having not prepared for this situation.

“Then I blame myself every time for not having paid enough attention to accounts of executions. A man should always take an interest in those things. You never know what might happen.”

(Camus, 108).

This line provides inquiry to the question: Should we all prepare to be guilty? No ordinary person would live their life expecting to find themselves in a trial of this sort. Clearly, Meursault did not either. But he claims a valid point, ” You never know what might happen”. People are caught up in unlucky situations all the time. To be clear, I do not intend to say that committing murder is an unlikely situation. Is it true that an ordinary person could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and commit an offense? If one were to be on trial, how would preparation for that moment really change one’s emotions? Meursault seems to think preparing for being guilty would be benefited him, but then again, Meursault does not seem to have emotional reactions that are entirely aligned with those of any ordinary person.

Is mom really dead (post 1)

Throughout the first few chapters we learn about the death of Meursault’s mother as well as his reaction to said event. As we begin to unravel the text it becomes increasingly obvious that he seems to not care at all about the fact that his mother is dead and even further seems annoyed that he had to talk to his boss about missing work to attend the funeral. “I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that. But he wasn’t too happy about it. I even said, “It’s not my fault.” He didn’t say anything.” The tone of the story as well as the way that it is told gives the impression that Mr. Meursault cares little for the death of his mother. Unlike most people Meursault is unfazed and it caused me slight uncomfort through the first part of the story but it also caused a fascination that allowed me to fall even deeper into the world of that Camu created. As I read the layers around the funeral I began to see not only the surface level of uncaring that Meursault seems to display but that he is actually quite annoyed with certain things that seem irrelevant, such as the old man falling behind while the funeral procession was going to the church. The smaller details that seem to be swalloed by the overall uncaring attitude and tone of the book made it even more fascinating to me and make me excited to learn even more about Meursault as well as The Stranger.

Marie’s Testimony

In part two of The Stranger, Albert Camus describes Meursault’s experience throughout the trial. We are taken through the testimonies of several people along with Celeste, Meursault’s friend and Marie, his “love interest”. 

At first she seems like an open book, she willingly gives details of their relationship and a key date that the prosecutor points out “was the day after Maman died” (93). This provided some weight to the prosecution’s debate in Meursault’s lack of emotion or reaction to his mother’s death as earlier mentioned by the director and caretaker. Marie had unintentionally played into their hands, further strengthening their argument and in the process hurting Meursault’s defence. 

The prosecution continues on by having Marie explain what they had done on that day. In this instance she understood that she must be cautious of what she would say knowing the weight of her words could hurt Meursault. Additionally she also seems a bit reluctant to give out details possibly because she wanted to keep the memories only to herself and Meursault.

When asked what movie they had watched that day Meursault describes that “[i]n an almost expressionless voice she did in fact tell the court that it was a Fernandel film” (94). Fernandel films are known to be comical and providing this detail, Marie is seen accepting the consequences of her actions. She recognizes her doing and is now burdened with the knowledge that she has aided in the downfall of her partner.