Sensitivity and Discomfort

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Stranger, is the amount of discomfort the story exudes. Simply put, it is not a happy story. While Meursault seems to be relatively secure in his outlook on life, an outlook that is inherently strange, he also is in a constant state of discomfort in one way or another. Throughout the entire story he is, in a way, targeted by the sky and its heat. The differing sensations from how hot it was or what color the sky was seems to play a huge role in his decision making. Even at his happiest, like when he is at the beach with Marie, the color of the sky sticks out to him, representing his emotional state, “I had the whole sky in my eyes and it was blue and gold” (20). Somehow, the sky seems to be the reason he attacks the Arab man in the first place, “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” (59).

Meursault feels some sense of comfort being around women like Marie, however he gets uncomfortable when she shows any emotion, he doesn’t know how to respond. He feels comfortable around his friends, such as Raymond, but he gets uncomfortable with making his own, conscious, decisions. So, while Meursault seems content in his lifestyle and personality, he also expresses discomfort in so many situations (even unknowingly) that it makes it hard to agree with many of the decisions he makes.

3 thoughts on “Sensitivity and Discomfort

  1. Bella N.

    The theme of discomfort is one that I never really noticed until now, but it definitely plays a major role in the story. It’s interesting how there is always a factor in all of his environments that makes him uncomfortable. I wonder if this stems from the fact that Meursault is uncomfortable with himself, other people, or just the world/his view on it in general.

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  2. FATIMA SIDIME

    I agree that “The Stranger” is not a happy story. I feel that discomfort is a large theme in the book yet I find it interesting that Mersault never seems to be the one feeling that discomfort. Instead, his “nothing matters” attitude makes him a very unaffected narrator. The reader’s own discomforts are contrasted with Mersault’s apathy and I think that’s the genius of Camus choosing a very odd narrator to tell the story.

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  3. Brigid B

    The recurring theme of the sun and sky has always seemed very peculiar to me. Throughout the story, it seems to have a significant impact on his decision-making, but it also causes him to make the decision that leads to his death. I never quite understood what it was about the sun and heat that made him behave the way he did. The story provides little explanation for this event, but I suppose that is just one of the things the author chose to leave up to interpretation.

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