Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Albert Camus's "The Stranger" (3/3) - Lucas Wharton

1st Post :: 2nd Post

From Jail, with Love? (Meursault in Jail)

     Meursault's, perviously mentioned, murdering of an Arab man (where he shot him once, then released four more rounds after) on the beaches of Algiers lands him in jail where he is visited by his lawyer and comes before an examining magistrate. The magistrate asks him questions pertaining to two particular details of Meursault's prior actions in the story: his insensitivity towards his mother death, and the reason behind taking four shots after pausing. He tries to convince them that he loved his mother as much as anybody did and his argument crumbles when he has no answer for the second. The court then verifies him undeniable evil and even start calling him the anti-christ when he confesses he has no belief in God. Truly, Meursault is a victim made murder by his own lack of self-awareness. He never really considers the long term effects of anything throughout the story and lives reactionary upon his immediate surrounds and circumstances.

     Meursault's trial the following summer had gained buzz in the media with the slow winter months and quite the gathering showed up for his hearing. Despite his friends witnessing on his behalf, his own lack of remorse for the situation is ultimately leads to his sentence -- the death penalty. He struggles with the verdict and ponders upon the options of appealing or protesting the sentencing; but in the end he realizes that every man dies, whether it's ten hours or ten decades from now, each person must face the end of the life eventually. So, with that revelation, he accepts his punishment and denies the final visit with the priest before his execution. The priest comes to his cell and asks him why he sent him away. He tells him that he did not believe in God, and that he didn't have time to spend the rest of his is life worrying about him.

     When I finished this book for the first time, I was outraged by Meursault's reaction to his sentencing and his remarks to the priest. I was a youthful, spiritual boy who took much offense to that. I still thoroughly enjoyed the thought provoking theme in the book and took to reading it following my graduation from high school. I found new meaning into his conversation his the priest in the conclusion of this story. The conclusion he makes: all men die and the time is irrelevant; and the comment: I don't have time to waste the rest of my life figuring out God. These two ideas aligned with my current state of being at the time and I moved forward in them. This book has had a great had in shaping how I view the world. I consumed other Camus works (Myth of Sisyphus, Exile and the Kingdom, The Plague, and A Happy Death) and found great refuge in the Existential mindset. I owe a great deal to Albert Camus for writing this in incredible book, The Stranger.

1 comment:

  1. The existential message I take from Camus's "Stranger" is not that we have too little time to spend on reflection about the Big Questions, but that whatever we do in life is ultimately our own responsibility. The onus is on each of us to choose wisely and conscientiously, whether we believe in God or any other objective/external/eternal source(s) of value.