Meursault 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 mans 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 societys 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 mothers 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 doesnt 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 mothers 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 towns feelings of comfort that is maintained by communal order and religion. 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 doesnt 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 cant 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 Raymonds 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 Raymonds 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 Raymonds 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. Meursaults 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 courts 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 doesnt know what else he has to hope for other than that thought, that impulse in the moment. Meursaults 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 doesnt want to waste it on God. The chaplain retaliates by professing he will pray for Meursault because Meursaults heart is blind. Meursault yells at him to not waste his prayers; the chaplain seemed so certain about everything, didnt he? He wasnt 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 lifes 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. Philosophy Essays.