Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Outsider : Albert Camus

Mersault, the protagonist of the story, takes the news of his mother's death with ambivalence. He simply doesn't know what to feel, and struggles to find an emotional reference point for what is an otherwise devastating circumstance.
This short novel explores many themes including existentialism, but primarily and more specifically the themes of anomie, absurdity, stoicism and atheism.
Mersault's 'deterministic demise' continues when he writes a break up letter for his friend Raymond to a girlfriend suspected of infidelity. Instead of presuming the 'expected emotion' of intitially getting involved, Mersault sees no reason not do fulfill this request, as it will inevitably please Raymond.
As 'the existentialist', Mersault is living only in the present and sees 'regret' as redundant semantics.
Later, Raymond is confronted by the girl's brother and his Arab friend, who attack him with a knife. Further in the day, Mersault takes a pistol from Raymond's apartment in an attempt to prevent Raymond from making any rash decisions. This subsequently conspires against Mersault, as he encounters the Arab man on his way home, shooting him five times.

Part Two of the novel begins with Mersault in prison, and describing his arrest.
His trail concludes in a death penalty (public decapitation) yet the basis of this punishment is focused more on his lack of remorse for his mother's death, rather than the act of murder.

The final paragraph of the book ends with Mersault's realisation that all life is condemned.

"As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hatred."

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