Whilst the reader may view Meursault as emotionally-stunted, there is little evidence that the other characters view him in this way, in fact they treat him as a fully-rounded human being, whose company and companionship is to be sought.However, whilst some characters form relationships with him, they are all one-sided, with Meursault indifferent to their friendship.As an embodiment of humanity Meursault is paradoxically both impenetrably complex and risibly simplistic.
He is a man without a past, without definable motivations; a blank canvas upon whom the reader is forced to project their own self, their own experiences, and identify with intimately, provided they acknowledge their own inherent comradeship with him.
But in a more perverse sense neither Meursault, nor we, have any history until we realise it in the face of our own mortality.
Indeed, Meursault does not endear himself to the reader as one might expect a protagonist to in a first-person narrative, and instead the reader feels as disengaged from Meursault as he does from the world.
Where Marie and Raymond fail to see it, the reader recognises the void in Meursault’s life, and identifies him as ‘the stranger’.
I will also discuss the writing and symbolism, and how they relate to the higher concepts discussed.
Meursault Meursault lives a quiet life of routine, content with his simple office job and uncomplicated way of living.The Outsider (1942) (previously translated from the French, L’Étranger, as The Stranger) is Albert Camus’s most widely known work, and expounds his early understanding of Absurdism, as well as a variety of other philosophical concepts.I discussed the novel on a superficial level in my recent review, and this will provide an overview of the work and its significance to those who are unfamiliar with it.Marie and Raymond - his closest companions within the novel - take advantage of Meursault’s passivity, ignoring responses they do not like and taking his lack of forceful disagreement as assent.They assume a bond, which Meursault himself does not feel.Like Camus’s, Meursault’s father died before he was old enough to remember him and, like Camus, Meursault attended college.Characters often comment on Meursault’s intelligence, and Raymond engages him to compose a letter of great emotional importance.Indeed, Meursault allows others to define his reactions and shape an identity for him, which proves increasingly tragic as the novel progresses.The reader has a more objective viewpoint and is struck by Meursault’s lack of emotion, and his distance from Marie and Raymond, as well as from themselves.Meursault’s unusual approach to human interaction has led some commentators to suggest he is of low-intelligence or mentally deficient in some manner.However, one need only look at the comparisons between Camus’s own life and that of his narrator’s to dispel this idea.