Abigail Awodele Nikhil Chopra Victoria Yin
between Meursault's consciousness and his external surroundings, from the physical sun to the orthodox beliefs of the court, is what ultimately creates
A sense of EXCITEMENT within The Stranger
Camus uses Meursault's internal events as catalysts for external conflicts.
Another factor of excitement is the
of the piece as a whole
Since Meursault is amoral, he does not take sides. Hence, one would expect that he wouldn't come into conflict with the world.
But of course... he does
Meursault responds to his surroundings in TWO ways
Initially he is a detached observer...
Later, despite his amoral ways, he is spurred by the external and becomes swept up in conflict because of his actions.
Meursault prefers not to come in contact with other people.
When people address him, he often replies with one syllable answers, other times only nodding, because he doesn't want to interject himself into their world. As demonstrated by the scene where he sits outside and observes the street below...
"Several of them waved to me. One of them even yelled up to me, 'We beat em!' And I nodded, as if to say, 'Yes.' " (23)
However, by the end of that day, Meursault comes to a realization. As he prepares to go to bed, he has a . . .
"change in consciousness."
"It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed."(24)
Immediately following this realization, Meursault becomes involved with Raymond, who asks Meursault to write a letter for him.
"But Raymond told me he didn't think he could write the kind of letter it would take and that he'd thought of asking me to write it for him. Since I didn't say anything, he asked if I'd mind doing it right then and I said no." (32)
Friction between internal and external is visible here because even if Meursault is amoral, Raymond is clearly immoral. Meursault's physical, "external" action of writing the letter creates conflict and eventually leads to his death.
Meursault's involvement with Raymond subsequently involves him with the Arabs. Here, in the climactic scene at the end of part one, in which Meursault shoots the Arab, the sun also appears as an
Important External Catalyst to Meursault's actions.
"The sun was the same as it had been the day I'd buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me? It was this burning, which I couldn?t stand anymore, that made me move forward." (59)
When Marie visits Meursault in prison one day, Meursault notices a mother visiting her son.
"I noticed that he was across from the little old lady and that they were staring intently at each other... The little old woman moved closer to the bars, and at the same moment a guard motioned to her son. He said 'Goodbye Maman,' and she reaches between two bars to give him a long, slow little wave." (74-75)
"Maman" in the scene bears a striking resemblance to Meursault's own mother. The silence between the mother and son is reminiscent of Meursault's disconnect with his mother.
Once again there is discord between internal and external. While Meursault is reminded of Maman, the one visiting him is
Marie is essentially the sole female in Meursault's life. In a way, she is a mother figure for him. But as Meursault's attention is drawn away from her to the other mother in the visiting scene, it can be noted that she is but a replacement for "Maman."
In prison, Meursault reverts back to his
Initial Detached Observant State
"For me it was one and the same unending day that was unfolding in my cell and the same thing I was trying to do. That day, after the guard had left, I looked at myself in my tin plate. My reflection seemed to remain serious even though I was trying to smile at it... But at the same time, and for the first time in months, I distinctly heard the sound of my own voice." (81)
In prison, a setting void of any external influence, Meursault becomes just an observer once more as there are no external actions to be made.
Hence, it is here Meursault awakens to find himself again, demonstrated by his looking at his reflection and hearing his own voice.
Meursault SEVERS his connections with the EXTERNAL world during his final encounter with the chaplain.
"I was pouring out on him everything that was in my heart, cries of anger and cries of joy... I was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me... Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why..." (120-121)
For the FIRST TIME
Meursault's thoughts are verbalized
Since Meursault's internal events, his consciousness, becomes external...
Closure is Achieved
There is no need to elaborate on Meursault's death scene because in the end...
IT DOES NOT MATTER