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The Stranger’s Essay Final Draft

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Rachel Ma

Professor Tyler Sage

English 111

October 7, 2015

“The Stranger’s Essay Final Draft”

“The Stranger” written by Albert Camus, follows the life of an Algerian man named Mersault who later commits a crime and ends up in jail leaving him to ponder the meaning of life and existence. The seemingly indifferent character who narrates the story, reveals his absurd yet honest personality through the way he reacts to specific events and situations in such unexpected manners. Among the many other important concerns that are intertwined through this simply written story, the most significant idea that Camus has portrayed is the concept of how inevitable death is. The novel works in two ways to portraying the inexorableness of death, through the symbolism of light and Mersault’s indifference with the world.

Mersault’s consistent unempathetic behavior is a significant factor throughout the novel and even gets him incarcerated in the end but he consciously acts through these measures because he knows nothing is going to matter once he is dead. The very first few lines that are given to the reader are, “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” (3). Mersault knows that there is no escaping death, therefore he does not see the significance or the urge to grieve for his mother. To him, there is no point to cry over his dead mother, when in fact he like everybody else is going to die someday too. Mersault’s view on death is casual and he see’s no benefit of feeling sympathetic for someone 

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that is no longer existing, leaving no physical remainder or emotional attachment behind. Additionally, looking closely at the text, the time of his mother’s passing is unclear and has no significant concern to Mersault. This shows how in Mersault’s eyes, whether it was today or tomorrow that a death were to occur it wouldn’t matter, because in the end it is imminent to all of us. With this mentality, he lives in the moment of the day rather than becoming fixated with any kinds of emotions also making nothing hold any lasting significance in his life. Later during his trial he even goes on to say, “...I didn’t feel much remorse for what I’d done...I had never been able to truly feel remorse for anything. My mind was always on what was coming next, today or tomorrow” (100). Mersault knows his death has no time limit, it could be “coming next, today or tomorrow”, so he does not see the point in feeling sorry for something that is not going to matter once he dies. The prosecutor expects Mersault to feel remorse subsequent the death of his mother and the murder he committed, but death is not a matter to get worked up about, as it is going to eventually happen to everyone. To Mersault there is no significance in dwelling on anything because at any point our existence in this world can come to an end, therefore leaving nothing to hold any lasting matter. Death is unavoidable and has no schedule, it will occur when it pleases and Mersault is well aware of this, so becoming upset over anything and more specifically death itself, is just plain useless.

The reoccurrence of light and heat is greatly used to foreshadow death throughout the novel. Light, the sun, and heat come up a few times throughout the story all in relation to the subject of death. In the beginning of the novel, while walking to the burial of Mersault’s mother’s funeral, heat is used to symbolize death and the fate it will take on everybody’s life someday. “‘If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a 

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sweat then catch a chill inside the church.’ She was right. There was no way out” (17). Looking deeper than what is just at the surface of the text, the nurse is implying that either way we are all going to end the process of life the same. Whether if we take different routes throughout our lives we all end up in the same situation. Mersault agrees to the nurse because he in fact knows that regardless to any circumstances, death is certainly unescapable. Another example where the sun plays a large factor in indicating death is during the climatic scene where he kills the Arab on the beach. “It occurred to me that all I had to do was turn around and that would be the end of it. But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back” (58). During this moment, as Mersault attempts to escape the anticipated thoughts of death, he is driven by the excruciating yet unescapable sun to killing the Arab. The sun is

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