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

Benjamin’s Theory and Abortion Rights

In Jessica Benjamin’s Bonds of Love, she describes domination as a “two-way process” which involves one person submitting to power and the other exercising the power. Establishing this kind of structure in relationships causes polarity and a struggle for authority. Whether it’s a personal relationship between a man and a woman or a father and son, Benjamin makes it clear that love will prevail in domination and submission.

Outside of personal relationships, the struggle for power and domination is also visible in public relations and politics. On June 24th the supreme court voted to overturn Roe v Wade therefore allowing federal governments to regulate abortion laws within their state. Soon after states like Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma began enforcing abortion bans. Scrolling through the articles about abortion laws I read something about how in Georgia abortion is illegal after 6 weeks of pregnancy. I was curious why it had to be 6 weeks, and what difference did it make if the pregnancy might have been 10 weeks? Then I realized it really had nothing to do with pregnancy . This whole argument about being pro choice and pro life had no correlation to states banning abortions. It was derived by a desire for power. In reality lawmakers are not worried about the well being of the mother or the unborn child, it’s about having control over women’s bodies and reproductive rights. In a patriarchal society men can assert their dominance by oppressing the rights of women and that is exactly what happens when you take aways abortion rights. Behind it is a cycle of trauma and poverty that young mothers face continually and just like Jessica Benjamin states in her writing, if we don’t challenge the structure of dominance we may never break the cycle. I am hopeful that if we continue to protest gender polarity and valorize feminism we can reach the level of equality we desire, therefore protecting women’s power and rights over their bodies.