Marriage in The Stranger and Trust

The main characters Meursault in The Stranger, and Matthew and Maria in the movie Trust (1990), are all prototypes for the Absurdist hero. All of them live as misfits, ignoring social norms and expectations. This is especially evident in their regard for marriage. While Meursault was willing to marry Marie even though he admitted to her on multiple occasions that he did not love her, he did so with emotional involvement of deciding what to eat for dinner. Not once did he question or wrestle with the idea of marriage; he was okay with it if it was something Marie wanted. He certainly didn’t see marriage as a life-changing decision that needed any deep thought.

Similarly in the movie Trust, Maria was willing to marry her boyfriend more out of convenience due to her pregnancy than any true love for him. She sees him more as a stable provider as he will probably work for his father’s business and have a stable income. When he dumps her, she’s not upset and doesn’t express any real love for him. Matthew too has a strange view of marriage as he offers to marry Maria and raise her baby while only knowing her mostly as a friend and for a short time. None of them take marriage seriously. Although I guess this fits with the Absurdist view that nothing really matters in the end, including marriage.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

In both The Stranger by Albert Camus and the movie Trust (1990), the characters seem unaffected by the norms of the world around them. Meursault of the former appears to be detached and unconcerned with the happenings of society, and the actors in the latter portray their characters with deadpan expressions and unrealistic dialogue. As both of these pieces of media are commentaries on the restrictions of societal norms, the unrealistic and often unemotional appearance of the characters amplifies the social mores that are being critiqued.

In The Stranger, Meursault does not value the things that society tells him to value. The character of the people he surrounds himself with does not concern him, nor does the expectation that one should cry at one’s mother’s funeral. He does not follow the widely accepted way of living and does not care about what people think others should care about. His seeming indifference to the world is received harshly by his peers. During his court case, he is persecuted mostly for the abnormal way in which he acts. Through the harsh contrast between Meursault’s unemotional and uncaring nature and society’s (as shown through the jury) expectations of others, we see the ridiculous nature of imposed societal norms.

In Trust, the actors deliver their lines in a way that is lacking emotion that may make viewers cringe. This muted unrealistic performance of some is matched by heightened unrealistic performance of others in the film. The absurd behavioral patterns of Michael’s father and Maria’s mother compared to Michael and Maria’s subdued and abnormal approach to the world illuminates the strangeness of societal patterns and norms.