Does Meursault Care?

Throughout The Stranger by Albert Camus, it is implied that Meursealt is indifferent to his mother’s death. In the opening chapter Meurseault shows a lack of knowledge of his mother’s death, stating “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know”. During his mother’s funeral he observes things such as; the weather, the screws on the coffin, and what the other people at the funeral are wearing. But throughout the funeral Meursault does not reflect on his mother’s death and does not even mourn. This leads the reader to believe that he does not care that his own mother has died.

However, in the final chapter when Meursault faces his execution, he has a true understanding about his perceived indifference to life. He thinks about all of his friendships and all his romantic relationships and realizes that they hold no inherent meaning to the universe. After doing this he thinks about his mother for the first time in a while. He relates his impending death to what Maman was feeling in the nursing home. He feels a sense of freedom as his death approaches and realizes that his mother must have felt that same comforting indifference of impending death. After realizing this he declares that; “Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her.”

To me this shows that Meursault did love his mother and that a part of him was affected by her death. His lack of emotion was due to his indifference to the world but not because he didn’t care. He did not show emotion because he knew that his mother was at peace on her deathbed and therefor nobody should be sad for her. He realized that death is something and Maman was at peace in her final days. This gave Meursault the comfort to know that his mother did not suffer so neither should he.

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