New Perspective on The Stranger

Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger, follows the timeline of the death of Meursault’s mother to his execution. The first part of the book was extremely difficult to read because of how boring I found him. He spoke in concise and simple sentences, yet his disregard for everyone and the events that surrounded him created a disconnect and frustration within me. Nabokov would argue that this is a good thing – as I wasn’t able to relate and was forced to look at the story objectively, however, I would disagree.

My attitude towards the book changed once we had a discussion in class and I was better able to understand Meursault’s outlook on life. I found that I agreed with some of his points to a certain extent. Social constructs are everywhere in our daily lives so when someone deviates from or challenges them they are deemed a stranger or an outsider. The Stranger illustrates a person who experiences similar events to others but differs drastically in how he reacts.

Beauty in Good Country People

In “Good Country People” many power dynamics are presented which help shape the story and allow a better understanding of each character. A particular one I picked up on was BEAUTY/ugliness. Mrs. Freeman constantly boasts about her daughters’ attractiveness, how one is already married and the other has a line of suitors. In contrast, Mrs. Hopewell’s daughter, Hulga, is not particularly attractive. Rather, she’s focused on her education and being successful academically, though she’s limited in these advancements due to her weak heart and prosthetic leg.

Further, Mrs. Hopewell believes and states that beauty extends to the personality and characteristics of a person not just their physical appearance. Again, Hulga would not be deemed beautiful under this definition because of her negative outlook on life and behavior towards others.

During and after reading this, I believe that Mrs. Freeman often brings up the beauty of her daughters and Glycene’s endless options of men because it makes her more equal to Mrs. Hopewell; as Mrs. Freeman works for her so there’s a BOSS/employee dynamic and a WEALTHIER/poorer one. It’s possible that in some way it’s enjoyable for Mrs. Freeman to discuss them because she knows Mrs. Hopewell won’t have a response and will simply agree or compliment them. This also renders the question of, does Mrs. Freeman talk about this because she knows Hulga can hear them?

Ultimately, we will never know Mrs. Freeman’s true intentions or the raw feelings on either womens’ side, but it is something to contemplate and consider.

Benjamin’s Mutual Recognition and the Role of Age

Benjamin’s Bonds of Love is a psychoanalysis in which she introduces mutual recognition and its cruciality in maintaining relationships. She presents this theory in many forms, especially in gender polarity and relationships within a family. This book gives people an understanding of how these dynamics in relationships occur and why they’re accepted. There are many constructs to which this can be applied, age being one of them.

Age has always played a significant role in if or how much people recognize, give credibility or listen to another person. It’s preconceived that the older someone is, the more education and wisdom they have because of their experiences.

I have always recognized the power dynamic between myself and another person because of our difference in age. (Others must have too or else our society wouldn’t be largely structured on it.) From when you are young, the respect and obedience towards those older than you are instilled and many times ingrained in your head so much so that it’s a habit to defer power. This practice creates a distinction between the two parties and the roles each fill in the relationship. The older of the two typically holds the power while the younger one usually steps into their role as compliant and subservient. Although these binaries make us separate from others which Benjamin believes we need, it also creates an imbalance of power that many (older or those with power) use to their advantage. Benjamin’s theory of mutual recognition, if applied, could help to reset this present problem in relationships.