In the stranger, Camus uses Mersaults’ experiences such as his mothers’ death,killing the Arab, the trial, and his interaction with other charactersthroughout the novel to convey his philosophy, which satisfies all principals ofexistentialism. The existentialism idle proposes that man is full of anxiety anddespair with no meaning in his life, just simple existing, until he’s made adecisive being.
To convey his existentialism philosophy, Camus use the death ofMersaults’, mother in the beginning of the novel. On the first page, Mersault ismore concerned about the time of his mothers’ death, and not the fact that hehad recently lost a loved one. This shows that Mersault felt that there is noreason to mourn for his mothers’ death, and also conveys the existentialist ideathat reason is powerless to the idea with the depths of human life. The factthat Mersault shows no compassion ultimately conveys Camus’ philosophy. Also, atMersaults’ mothers funeral Mersault does not cry or behave the way that societyexpects him to act. This is because Mersault is an existentialist, and does notact in the appropriate manner in which society expects, which makes him astranger from the people around him. The murder of the Arab is clearly thecentral event of the novel, therefore, Camus placed it right in the middle ofthe book. This violent crime interrupts the routine of the story.
It is the lastincident recounted in part one, so its importance is underscored by a structuralbreak in the story. It is related in one of the longer chapters, which recordsin fine detail the events of the day, even when their relevance is not anobvious for example, several paragraphs are devoted to describing how Marie andMersault frolic in the sea. The murder marks an obvious change in Mersaults’life, from free man to prisoner, and more subtle associated changes, such as hisincreasing introspection and concern with memory. Mersault himself describes theshooting in terms that emphasize both the destruction of a past and the start ofsomething new: “and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the sametime, is where it all started’ I shook off the sweat and the sun. I know thatI had shattered the harmony of the day, the exception silence of a beach whereI’d been happy.
“(pg. 59) Until the murder, nothing very dramatic hashappened and nothing dramatic seems likely to happen. Partly, of course, thisair of normality results from the way Mersault tells the story. His mothers’death could have been a momentous event, but he begins the novel with thestatement: “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know”.(pg.1) The tone and the uncertainty combine to make us feel that this is not asignificant event. Mersault agreeing to marry Marie, could have been presentedas a turning point in his life; however he relates their engagement as if itwere a routine decision: “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked meif I wanted to marry her.
I said it didn’t make much difference to me and thatwe could if she wanted to” Mersault expresses very much the same attitudetoward the murder as he has previously; his actions have no conscious motives.In the event leading up to the point when Mersault kills the Arab, the heat,sun, and the light begins to affect him more and more, at which point hissensual feeling overwhelms him and causes him to pull the trigger and kill theArab. I was walking slowly towards the rocks and I could feel my foreheadswelling under the sun. All that heat was pressing down on me and making it hardfor me to go on..
. But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on myback…The sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and likethen, my forehead especially was hurting me. ( pg. 57-58) This part of the novelshows how Mersault is a stranger from nature, in the way that for the first timethe sun and his sensual pleasures begin to act against him, and cause him tolose control. During the trial, Camus begins to ridicule the legal system, andmake apparent the fact that Mersault is truly an outsider.
Camus does this bymaking Mersault feel out of place at has trial; also by showing that Mersaults’case is rushed, due to the fact that there is an exciting parricide case next.All throughout the trial the prosecutors try to make a case that, becauseMersault did not cry at his mothers’ funeral, he was guilty. The distortion isthat society believes that if you don’t cry or show grief in some outward way,you have no soul. The prosecutor in his closing arguments says that: But here inthe wholly negative virtue of tolerance must give way to the sterner but loftiervirtue of justice. Especially when emptiness of a man’s heart becomes, as wefind it has in this man, an abyss threatening to swallow up society. (Pg.101) Asif to say that the murder of the Arab was a direct result of the fact that hedid not cry at his mothers’ funeral. Society has distorted the facts of thecase, he is actually being tried for the fact that he did not cry at hismothers’ funeral rather than the actual crime at hand.
This reveals Camus’philosophy by making Mersault a stranger from society, and the legal system.During the time in which Mersault is imprisoned, he begins to feel as though heis unable to accept death and wants to escape the inevitable. This is how Camususes Mersault to explain other principles of existentialism, which is fear,anxiety, and angst. The reason that Mersault feels this way is that he’s deniedeverything in prison and has nothing to deal with but himself, which makes himable to consider what is doing to happen to him. In the novel, Mersault dealswith people such as his friends or acquaintances that were not readily acceptedin the society of that time.
When Salomano comes to talk to Mersault about hisdog, instead of being compassionate and consoling the old man, Mersault tellshim that the pound keeps the dogs for a few days until it is put down. Thisshows that Mersault feels no reason to lie to Salamano or tell him something tocomfort him; Mersault does not feel pity for the old man. This is also anexistentialist viewpoint in the way that Mersault has no need to conform tosociety how most people would. In conclusion, Camus writes the novel in order toexplain the absurdities of life, with the actions of Mersault to portray hisexistentialist beliefs. By showing that Mersault goes against everything that isdefined as appropriate in society, Camus has managed to do well enough that onewho did not have much knowledge about existentialist may gain an insight of whatit is, and the belief that an existentialist has.