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Meursault Essay, Research Paper

Meursault is a man who will not lie to himself. He will not feign emotion, nor

use religion as a vehicle to give his life meaning. Meursault has a passion for the truth,

which opens the revelation for all humanity: life is absurd; it is man?s mortal

responsibility to be committed to himself, for death is absolute and inevitable. In Albert

Camus? The Stranger, his behavior and characteristics display him as an immoral man,

expressing indifference towards society?s formulas for normalcy.

The lack of emotion Mersault has concerning the death of his mother is an

excellent portrayal of his beast-like, immoral character. Meursault defies the customary

code of behavior by refusing to see his mother?s carcass, and instead, he fell asleep and

accepted coffee and cigarettes at the vigil. Additionally, he does not honor a period of

mourning. In place of mourning, Meursault goes swimming, sees a comedy film with a

girl, then proceeds to take her home and make love to her. Mersault doesn?t even

remember anything about the funeral except for something that one of the nurses had

said. ?If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a

sweat and then catch a chill inside the church? (page 17). The fact that this and several

other images are his only memories of his mother?s funeral show his lack of emotion and

reguard for subjects that are deemed important by the majority of mankind. These

prominent disrespects to the accepted regulations of society are what unmistakably

denounce him at the trial; society fears apathy and condemns Meursault in order to

preserve the town?s feelings of comfort that is maintained by communal order and


Meursault is also a stranger to behaving in a gregarious manner and

conforming to social formalities. His so-called friend Raymond invites Meursault to his

apartment to have blood sausage and wine, then goes on to tell Meursault about his Arab

girlfriend and how he beat her because she was cheating on him. He wants to discipline

this girl by means of chastisement even though he still has sexual feelings for her.

Raymond asks Meursault what he thinks about the whole thing and Meursault says he

doesn?t “think anything but that it was interesting? (page 32). The conversation

continues and Mersaults responses exemplify why Raymond enjoys his company so

much; Mersault has no definite opinion of his own and he always appears to be in accord

with what everyone else has to say. ?He asked if I thought she was cheating on him, and

it seemed to me she was; if I thought she should be punished and what I would do in his

place, and I said you can?t ever be sure, but I understood his wanting to punish her” (page

32). Meursault lacks morals. He has no need for them. Values for him do not enter his

life for they do not have an impact on him. Meursault proceeds to please Raymond with

his listless attitude to Raymond?s social relations by writing an indecent letter to his Arab

girlfriend. Meursault does not contemplate the outcomes in writing an asinine letter to a

woman he has never met, nor the impression it could leave on her life. Meursault simply

does not care about any of this and thus he has no moral obligations.

Raymond and Mersault had gone to the beach to visit Raymond?s friend

Masson at his beach house. Upon walking down the beach, Raymond and Mersault cane

across two Arabs that Raymond had a conflict with prior to this moment. Due to

Raymond?s desire for revenge, he and Mersault travel down the beach, Raymond with a

revolver, Mersault unarmed. Raymond contemplates shooting his man (his girlfriend’s

brother), but Meursault tells him he can only shoot in self-defense in the case that the

Arab pulls his knife. Then he takes Raymond’s gun, which the sunlight catches, and goes

back with him to the beach house. Mersault, however, does not go back to the cabin, but

turns back to the beach, although ?to stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing? (page

57). The unyielding rationale of the Algerian sun overcomes him. Meursault encounters

Raymond’s man who pulled a knife in front of Meursault. ?It seemed to me as if the sky

split open from one end to the other to rain down fire. My whole being tensed and I

squeezed my hand around the revolver. The trigger gave… Then I fired four more times

at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like

knocking four times on the door of unhappiness? (page 59). This event led to his futile

trial and eventually to his demise.

Meursault?s incapacity to correlate to the proprieties of society is a major

handicap at his trial for murdering the Arab. When discovering that the court will

appoint a lawyer for him, Meursault thinks that it is “very convenient that the court

should take care of those details” (page 63). He does not see the essentiality in seeking,

collaborating with, and paying an attorney to protect him in court. Meursault knows that

he has killed an Arab and having a defense seems dispensable. Challenged by the court?s

legal mechanics, Meursault is a stranger to the judicial world, thus making it hard for him

to be served justice whether or not he should be.

Meursault does not need religion to furnish his life with meaning. For

Meursault, the natural things are waht produces delight, signifigance, and organization in

his life. Meursault esteems having a methodical system, trivial gratifications, and nature.

Specifically, Sundays do not excite Meursault, nor offer any consolation to him. They

lack the rising, tram, four hours in the office? cycle. Sundays lack routine and are

unstructured, unlike the week days where there is a day reserved for fun (Saturday) and

the work week to accomplish tasks. Mechanical, day-to-day living is essential to

Meursault, as much as small pleasures are. At work, Meursault enjoys the physical

pleasure of washing his hands. However, as the day progresses and the towel becomes

soggy with excess moisture, he enjoys the action less and less. Meursault mentions this

fact to his employer, who considers it a trivial detail (25). Meursault also appreciates the

beauty of nature. He treasures the view from his balcony, the colors of the sky at

different times of day, the sun and the sea. These small gratifications are the key to

Meursault, expressing his acceptance of the tangibility and reality of life.

Marie visits Meursault in prison, and before she leaves she shouts to him that

he “had to have hope” (75). Meursault says, “Yes,” but as he looks at her all he can think

about is wanting to squeeze her shoulders through her dress and feel the material. He

doesn?t know what else he has to hope for other than that thought, that impulse in the

moment. Meursault?s pleasure in the little things correlate to his acceptance of death.

He does not look forward to a life after death and faces the fact that he must die — like

every other man ? leaving no need for hope. Meursault has a passion for the truth: the

truth of feeling and being. At the end of the novel, the chaplain comes to see Meursault

about cleansing his soul of sin in preparation for death. Meursault explains to the priest

that he has only a little time left and doesn?t want to waste it on God. The chaplain

retaliates by professing he will pray for Meursault because Meursault?s heart is blind.

Meursault yells at him to not waste his prayers; the chaplain “seemed so certain about

everything, didn?t he? ?He wasn?t even sure he was alive, because he was living like a

dead man” (120). The priest is a “dead” man. He follows a faith that praises blind

worship and condemns natural mistakes, continuing even in the afterlife. Religion is silly

to Meursault because it is not tangible, is not real, and it is not a sure thing. Meursault

could have lived his life one way or another and it will not have mattered, because each

life elects the same fate ? death. This is life?s absurdity, and this is the revelation that

Meursault has to offer to humanity. “Maman used to say that you can always find

something to be happy about” (113) and it is imperative that man lives for the life, and

not the fictitious resting place of Heaven.

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Related works:
Madame Meursault
Meursault As The Stranger
Stranger And Meursault
The Two Faces Of Meursault
Meursault A Man Who Refuses To
Meursault By Albert Camus

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