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Albert camus the stranger meursault is aloof detached and unemotional

Albert Camus' The Stranger: Meursault Is Aloof, Detached, and Unemotional

In The Stranger, Albert Camus portrays Meursault, the book's narrator

and main character, as aloof, detached, and unemotional. He does not think

much about events or their consequences, nor does he express much feeling in

relationships or during emotional times. He displays an impassiveness

throughout the book in his reactions to the people and events described in the

book. After his mother's death he sheds no tears; seems to show no emotions.

He displays limited feelings for his girlfriend, Marie Cardona, and shows no

remorse at all for killing an Arab. His reactions to life and to people

distances him from his emotions, positive or negative, and from intimate

relationships with others, thus he is called by the book's title, "the

stranger". While this behavior can be seen as a negative trait, there is a

young woman who seems to want to have a relationship with Meursault and a

neighbor who wants friendship. He seems content to be indifferent, possibly

protected from pain by his indifference.

Meursault rarely shows any feeling when in situations which would, for

most people, elicit strong emotions. Throughout the vigil, watching over his

mother's dead body, and at her funeral, he never cries. He is, further,

depicted enjoying a cup of coffee with milk during the vigil, and having a

smoke with a caretaker at the nursing home in which his mother died. The

following day, after his mother's funeral, he goes to the beach and meets a

former colleague named Marie Cardona. They swim, go to a movie, and then spend

the night together. Later in their relationship, Marie asks Meursault if he

wants to marry her. He responds that it doesn't matter to him, and if she

wants to get married, he would agree. She then asks him if he loves her. To

that question he responds that he probably doesn't, and explains that marriage

really isn't such a serious thing and doesn't require love. This reaction is

fairly typical of Meursault as portrayed in the book. He appears to be casual

and indifferent about life events. Nothing seems to be very significant to him.

Later on in the book, after he kills an Arab, not once does he show any

remorse or guilt for what he did. Did he really feel nothing? Camus seems to

indicate that Meursault is almost oblivious and totally unruffled and untouched

by events and people around him. He is unwilling to lie, during his trial,

about killing the Arab. His reluctance to get involved in defending himself

results in a verdict of death by guillotine. Had Meursault been engaged in his

defense, explaining his actions, he might have been set free.

Meursault's unresponsive behavior, distant from any apparent emotions,

is probably reinforced by the despair which he sees open and feeling

individuals experience. He observes, for example, Raymond cheated on and hurt

by a girlfriend, and sees his other neighbor, Salamano, very depressed when he

loses a dear companion, his dog. Meursault's responses are very different, he

doesn't get depressed at death nor does he get emotionally involved. He

appears to be totally apathetic. Thus, he seems to feel no pain and is

protected from life's disappointments.

Sometimes a person like Meursault can be appealing to others because he is

so non-judgmental and uncritical, probably a result of indifference rather than

sympathetic feelings. His limited involvement might attract some people

because an end result of his distance is a sort of acceptance of others, thus

he is not a threat to their egos. Raymond Sintes, a neighbor who is a pimp,

seems to feel comfortable with Meursault. Sintes does not have to justify

himself because Meursault doesn't comment on how Sintes makes money or how he

chooses to live his life. Even though Meursault shows no strong emotions or

deep affection, Marie, his girlfriend, is still attracted and interested in him.

She is aware of, possibly even fascinated by, his indifference. Despite the

seemingly negative qualities of this unemotional man, people nevertheless seem

to care for him.

There are individuals who, because of different or strange behavior,

might be outcasts of society, but find, in spite of or because of their

unconventional behavior, that there are some people who want to be a part of

their lives. Meursault, an asocial person is such an individual. His behavior,

while not antagonistic or truly antisocial, is distant, yet it does not get in

the way of certain relationships. While there are some people who might find

such relationships unsatisfying and limited, Meursault and those he is

connected to seem to be content with their "friendships". His aloofness,

though, may not have saved him from suffering. It might actually have been the

cause of the guilty verdict at his trial for killing the Arab. Withdrawing

from involvement with people or life events might not mean total isolation or

rejection but it does not necessarily protect an individual from pain or a bad


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