Stranger
The way a person reacts to ordinary situations determines the opinions of others
based on their behavior. Yet, when this behavior is abnormal or different from
the rest of society, it causes society to form an opinion based totally on a
personís behavior not their true personality. In Meursaultís case, his
strange opinions and unexpected remarks put him in this position, without ever
really giving him an opportunity to be truly understood. However, Meursault
cannot change his actions and behaviors from the past, therefore making him
responsible in the society he freely chooses to live in. Meursaultís complete
indifference to society and human relationships causes him to appear as the
actual "stranger" with those he encounters, which eventually leads to his
incarceration and inevitable date with the guillotine. Meursault is definitely a
man who is set in his ways. He has his own opinions and outlooks on life and
because of that fact he is constantly reminded of his inadequacies within
society. His refusal to look at his mother one last time after she had passed
away seemed pointless to Meursault at the time, where as the funeral director
viewed this as extremely odd: "We put the cover on, but Iím supposed to
unscrew the casket so you can see her." He was moving toward the casket when I
stopped him. He said, "You donít want to?" I answered, "No." He was
quiet, and then I was embarrassed because I felt I shouldnít have said that.

He looked at me and then asked, "Why not?" but without criticizing, as if he
just wanted to know. I said, "I donít know." (Camus 6) The difference of
opinion between Meursault and all of society, but in this example the funeral
director, brought about a feeling of inadequacy to Meursault and an appearance
of him as a stranger to society. Alice J. Strange explains his situation
perfectly by saying: Holding Meursault to his words, and recognizing the voids
they reveal, the reader sees Meursault as the stranger.... (Strange 3)

Throughout the novel, these encounters and/or relationships gradually set

Meursault aside from society. His encounter with the Arab shows how the presence
of other people in his life makes absolutely no impression on him. Taking the

Arabís life was something he did as a natural reaction, he pulled the trigger
thinking it was justified where as any normal human being would think other
wise. Once on trial, Meursault constantly observed the people in the courtroom
as if he had no idea of how the rest of society lived. Every thing he saw was
new to him and it brought him a feeling of excitement, as if he was enjoying
being on trial. Fear only came after his verdict. He didnít even consider his
fate early on in the trial because he was in awe of the rest of society; their
behaviors and actions were all new to him. In chapter three part two Meursault
explained this by saying: Usually people didnít pay much attention to me. It
took some doing on my part to understand that I was the cause of all the
excitement. I said to the policeman, "Some crowd!" He told me it was because
of the press and he pointed to a group of men at a table just below the jury
box. He said, "Thatís them." (83-84) The only thing Meursault is worried
about is the press, not the fact that his fate is about to be determined by a
group of people that donít even know him. He doesnít even care about death
at this point, only how he is excited to see all these new people and be able to
watch the court proceedings. Before Meursaultís incarceration, he lived a life
of desire based on his own satisfaction. His life was completely self-centered
and focused on his own physical pleasures. Meursaultís obsession with his own
desires can be explained by saying that: His contempt for man-made
necessitiesí, such as religion, morality, government, is supreme; but his
attitude toward natural coercion, hunger, sex, the weather, etc., though less
explicit, seems almost equally disdainful. Meursault is a non-participant (Carruth

8-9). He took absolutely no consideration of otherís feelings and how his
actions affected them. Meursaultís love of smoking, eating, drinking, having
sex, swimming and being outside, all of which are physical pleasures, are taken
to extremes. Take away these and try to imagine what Meursault would be like. He
would be practically lifeless because he wouldnít enjoy anything. He is never
concerned with what is going on in other areas of