the outsider

Title :: The Outsider
Author :: Albert Camus
Completed :: Apr 15 2008
Challenges :: 1001 Books
Rating :: 3/5

When a man commits a crime and is subsequently put on trial should his emotions, or rather his lack of emotions, in a previous unrelated incident - that of his mother's death take precedence in the eyes of those who judge him? Is Meursault truly an outsider, a stranger to society and the norms of human emotion?

Camus' tale begins with the death of Meursault's mother in a nursing home. He asks for time off from work but only just a day as that is all that is necessary to make the trip down to the nursing home and back. No extra time is requested for Meursault to grieve. During the overnight vigil he appears untouched while the rest of the residents gather to grieve, some crying openly.
It was at that point that I realized they were all sitting opposite me round the caretaker, nodding their heads. For a moment I had the ridiculous impression that they were there to judge me.
And perhaps they were, it is Meursault's lack of emotion in this scene that will come back to haunt him. It is also a reflection of what is to come when he will later be seated in court opposite judge and jury.

Since his day off fell on a Friday Meursault did have the weekend to recover only he spent it out and about, even flirting and later making love to a woman the very next day. It is in this relationship that the reader gets tiny hints that Meursault may have some feelings towards others. It is obvious that he's attracted to her, it is obvious that he likes making love to her, he even considers marrying her. But then one must consider whether or not these are merely physical satisfactions vs. an actual emotional investment. Meursault doesn't appear to be too bothered by her while he's in jail. I do however, have to wonder what it was that caused him to commit his crime. The internal dialogue leading up to the criminal act did seem to reflect some sort of emotional quandary. And perhaps this comes to a head at the very end when the chaplain is trying to get him to turn to God. He is annoyed and enraged by this and doesn't understand why indifference is an issue, but suddenly he realizes that the world is indifferent and he embraces that in his last thoughts.
As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!

. listening . sooner or later . breaking benjamin . we are not alone .


posted by Ashleigh @ 20:34,


At 4 May 2008 at 09:44, Blogger Mrs S said...

I had to read this for my French A-level - was supposed to do it in French but found an English translation! - I really didn't enjoy it then but having read your review I might give it another go...


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    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
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    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
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