Capture vs Freedom in The Stranger

In Albert Camus famous novel, The Stranger, the idea that life is meaningless is revealed through the attitudes of the narrator, Meursault. Halfway through the novel, I was convinced Meursault’s random behavior had to do with him being a unique and free individual. It was not until Meursault went to jail that I realized he had been trapped all along. While at his mother’s funeral, Meursault displays himself as cold and emotionless. For example, he describes the funeral as something concrete and not emotional, he also demonstrates this when he falls asleep in his chair during the wake. This response is perceived as odd by others around him who expect Meursault to be grieving the loss of his mother. Meursault expresses feeling judged by his mother’s friends on page 10 saying, “for a second I had the ridiculous feeling that they were there to judge me”. When first reading this quote, I was unaware of its significance to the story. It was not until part two, during the trial, that I realized Meursault had been foreshadowing events of the trial all along. When witnesses were called, the director, the caretaker and Perez, all who were present at the funeral, gave testimonies about Meursault’s behavior. They describe how he had not cried or paid his respects, and bring up that he slept during the wake. While listening to the witness statements, Meursault describes a sudden urge to cry. This is because at this moment he began to realize he was guilty. Meursault’s attitudes and behaviors throughout the novel paint him as a free, senseless individual but below the surfaced he remained captured. After Meursault is found guilty, he has a final conversation with the chaplain. This conversation helps Meursault accept his fate and he is finally able to let go of the life he had lived before. As he begins to see life and death as equal possibilities, his indifferent attitude switches. Therefore by coming to terms with death and embracing his fate Meursault is finally free.

for the first time in years I had this stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me

pg. 90

Exit West: Fantasy and Immigration

‘Exit West’ is a story based in an alternate reality filled with teleportation doors, a fantasy like concept that the story doesn’t focus too heavily on (as to not drown the rest of the story and its meaning). However unlike most other immigration based stories, which typically focus on the journey of immigration and its hardships, ‘Exit West’ doesn’t do that and is more concerned about the struggles and hardships that come after arriving. The doors play into the quick transition by removing the need for a long winded explanation of the travels of the main pair and other immigrants. The concept of magical teleportation doors could be a concept used in an apocalypse, and indirectly makes commentary on the bizarre sentiment of a mass immigration. The book comments on it by creating a reality where no major consequences are caused by the large number of immigrating people, at most there was discourse among the ‘natives’ and the immigrants, there was no war as some people would like to suggest and the doors are even used by people who wouldn’t usually be considered “immigrants” by the western idea of the term.

Exit West‘ is a story of immigrant accented by a fantastical idea and the interesting “romance” between two violently different people and their story of love and suffering.