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The Stranger Essay Titles

An Analysis Of Title Choice In The Stranger By Albert Camus

Supervised Writing #5
Why is the book titled "The Stranger"? Who is the Stranger suppose to be?

Some might ask why the novel was titled "The Stranger". Others may ask who 'The Stranger' was in the first place. To answer both questions, one must know the important aspects of the novel and observe how the characters act. First of all, "The Stranger" is a fictional novel written by Albert Camus and was first published in 1942. The story is based around Meursault who learns that his mother has passed away. From the start, the emotional news is sudden, and readers expect Meursault to be heartbroken and tearful but instead he is found in an emotionless state, almost as if he doesn't care. This displays emotional detachment from the world around him and there are multiple examples throughout the novel where significant moments do not have an emotional impact on Meursault. He does not display emotion to the fact that his mother is dead, or that Marie loves him. Though Meursault is unconnected to society he is still an honest person. He always speaks his mind and does not care how others see him. When his mother dies, he does not hide his true feeling. He does not shed fake tears over her death. He expresses what he really feels. With these actions Meursault challenges society’s accepted moral standards, which is that one should grieve over a loss. Because Meursault does not grieve, society then regards him as a "Stranger" to society due to his indifference. So in short, Meursault is "The Stranger" and the novel is titled after him because Meursault is a stranger to common ideas and to the people.

When Meursault's mother dies his reaction is surprisingly dull. He reacts in a way that seems like he doesn't care. His unpredictable reaction introduces the idea of the meaninglessness of human existence, which is a major theme that is present throughout the novel. When he mentions that his mother has died, he says it in a way that makes the reader believe like he doesn't care at all and that Meursault really does believe in the idea of the meaninglessness of human existence. "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.' That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday." (Camus, 3) Spoken by Meursault, this conveys his emotional indifference and detachment from not just society, but the readers as well. This demonstrates how he is a stranger to...

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Narrator Meursault begins with one of the most famous opening statements in modern literature: “Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.” Meursault is not so much callous as affectless, utterly disconnected from social conventions. He attends his mother’s funeral but fails to conform to the rituals expected on such an occasion.

The next day, he goes to the beach and picks up a woman named Marie. The two become lovers, but Meursault is unable to make any long-term commitments. He is also befriended by a petty hoodlum named Raymond.

The following week, Raymond invites Meursault and Marie to join him at the beach. While walking alone along the shore, Meursault confronts a hostile Arab. The sun flashes in Meursault’s eye while he finds himself with Raymond’s revolver in his hand. Before he is aware of anything, he has fired five shots into the Arab’s body.

The novel is divided into two almost equal parts; the second focuses on Meursault’s trial for murder. The prosecutor builds his case upon what he argues is a pattern of consistently selfish, cynical behavior. The defense attorney uses the same circumstantial evidence to attempt to depict Meursault as fundamentally sympathetic.

Meursault rejects the specious games of both and the premise that there is a meaningful pattern to any individual’s existence. Uncomfortable with the facile abstractions that distort the gratuitousness of actions, he offers himself as a martyr to the truth.

Written in a severe, understated style, the novel mocks grandiose claims for coherence among discrete, immediate events. It questions traditional assumptions about moral responsibility and about the individual’s role in society.

Bibliography:

Bree, Germaine, ed. Camus: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962. An early collection of essays by outstanding critics. Includes a translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s influential “Explication of The Stranger.”

Ellison, David R. Understanding Albert Camus. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990. An overview of the development of Camus’ themes and writing style. Focuses on Camus as a literary man whose works embody a consistent philosophical outlook. Especially useful for first-time readers of Camus.

King, Adele, ed. L’Étranger: Fifty Years On. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Twenty original essays by leading Camus scholars. Offers a variety of viewpoints and provides a valuable companion to a study of the novel.

McCarthy, Patrick. Albert Camus: The Stranger. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the novel. McCarthy is especially good on the novel’s political aspects and on how Camus manages to transform an unsympathetic protagonist into an Everyman.

Rhein, Phillip H. Albert Camus. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Relates The Stranger to the whole of Camus’ philosophy and focuses on the novel as a reflection of that philosophy. Provides an enlightening companion volume to Ellison’s Understanding Albert Camus.

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