The novel by Albert Camus “The Stranger” was written in 1940 and published in 1942. Analysis of this work, as the most striking and famous, helps to trace all the basic ideas of the author.
The storyline of “The Stranger” (as, incidentally, the composition) is linear. The story consists of two parts. In the first part, the Frenchman Meursault, who lives in Algeria, receives news of the death of his mother and arrives at the funeral. The hero spends the next day in Algeria with a lady named Marie, who becomes his girlfriend. Neighboring pimp Raymond invites Marie and Meursault to spend a weekend on the beach, but along the way they notice that they are being watched by Arabs, one of whom is the brother of Raymond’s former lover. On a vacation between the Arabs and the friends of Meursault, there is a strike that ends in nothing. After a while, the hero, seeing one of the Arabs on the beach, kills him. The second part is the Meursault case, which lasted 11 months, as a result of which he was sentenced to death.
Despite the simple plot, the author’s idea is very deep. What matters to us is not the storylines, but the reaction of the protagonist to what is happening around, or rather, the absence of any reaction. Camus is painted by a person who does not experience traditional emotions accepted in society. He does not cry at his mother’s funeral, he doesn’t care about Marie’s proposal to marry, he does not feel anything during the murder. The trial seems to the protagonist dreary and protracted, he does not pay attention to what is happening.
The story has two semantic levels – social and metaphysical. The first level is the reality and reaction of others. The second level is divorced from the real component, it reveals the inner world of Meursault.
In the actions of the protagonist, the existential romanticism of his image is manifested. Meursault is an outcast in society, his actions cause misunderstanding and are condemned. Neither the jury, nor the judges, nor Marie understand him. Raymond creates the appearance of understanding and friendship, however, in the end, he does not care about Meursault (just like Raymond does not care). Another component of the romantic image – the actions of the hero are driven by nature. He is the only one who likes to look at the sky. Even the murder, it would seem, directs the scorching sun, which is shining at that moment on the beach.
The story shows a bright author’s style. The text is a mixture of description and narration in the past tense in the first person. The hero succinctly lists everything that he did, without making a difference between drinking a cup of coffee, going to the movies and killing. All the actions of Meursault are saturated with the atmosphere of the absurd – his actions are absurd, his inner world. The jury’s arguments are absurd: ultimately, the main argument in favor of the death penalty is that Meursault did not cry at his mother’s funeral.
The climax of the story is the last night in the cell, when indifference leaves the protagonist. Meursault rushes about and falls asleep in nightmares. He feels the desire to relive everything anew, opens his soul to the world, and suddenly realizes that the world is the same as HE. The hero is indifferent to the world, just as the world was indifferent to the hero. Meursault feels loneliness and sees with his reassurance only one thing: so that during the execution all who came do not look at him with glass faces, but feel genuine hatred.
Thus, the existential views and ideas of the absurdism of Camus are fully manifested in the novel “The Stranger”. Interestingly, the author does not condemn the actions of the protagonist. Reprimand is the destiny of a traditional society, the absurdity of which is shown in the story.