Belonging Vs. Individualism

The Stranger complicates ideas about whether it is right or wrong to conform to societal norms, how it affects others’ lives, and how individuals experience the consequences of their choices. The use of a character such as Meursault, whose lack of belief puts him at the furthest end of non-conformity to social norms, allows Camus to test questions about individuality and belonging by placing Meursault in different moral venues and examining the consequences of his actions.

Meursault’s relationship with Raymond demonstrated how non-belief can be harmful to others. On the other hand, Meursault’s relationship with Marie demonstrated how non-belief could be beneficial to others. The court scene showed the community’s moral judgment of his character, and the pre-execution scene showed the impact of his stance on himself. Hence, Camus does not offer one right answer to the conflict between belonging and individuality, rather, he uses a story to pose questions for debate and exploration. Through offering a series of moral encounters, Camus forces the reader to reflect upon their own stances to make a judgment on Meursault’s character.

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