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Critiques and different views of The Stranger by Albert Camus

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Katie Biernat

on 14 November 2012

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Transcript of Critiques and different views of The Stranger by Albert Camus

Meursault Seeks His
Own Punishment
C. Ronald Wagner "We need not go far to show that beneath his calm surface Meursault is not altogether indifferent, that he is even a man of intense, if severely concentrated passions." pg 156. The Theme of Death Kathryn B. McGuire Is Meurault a Stranger to the Truth? Rober C. Solomon. Different Views on
The Stranger By Albert Camus
Critiques by
Ronald Wagner
Robert Soloman
and Kathryn McGuire “Wagner claims that Meursault seeming indifference- represented by his silence in certain important situations- is the product of feelings within Meursault that he consciously or unconsciously fails to address. The most important of these for Wagner is Meursault’s wish to be reunited with his dead mother.” "I don't know if Camus clearly intended it, but Meursault's unverbalized, semi-concious feeling for his mother- a feeling that is clearly pointed up in the novel- works novelistically as the equivalent of that philodophical "passion for the absolute." The longing for maternal unity, the infra-rational desire to be reunited with the departed Mother..." pg 157. "But Meursault's hidden yearning is not revealed in so many words... Meursault's underground link with the love and love-hate relationships of others in the novel. Old Salamano and his dog, Raymond and his Arab mistress, an Arab prisoner and his mother, all have unexpressed meaning for the hero; they tell us more about him than he can tell us himself."pg. 157. Salamano, for example, who (like Raymond the pimp) lives on the same floor of the dank apartment house as Meursault, has mistreated his ugly, mangy dog for years until, finally, the terrorized animal runs away and leaves Salamano without a companion. Meursault listens to the 'little wheezing sound' of the old man weeping next door; "For some reason, I don't know what, I began thinking of Mother. But I had to get up early next day; so, as I wasn't feeling hungry, I did without supper, and went straight to bed" pg. 157. "The fact that at this moment he 'wasn't feeling hungry' is not in itself important, but if we remember that at the all night vigil for his dead mother at the Home for Aged Persons the supposedly indifferent Meursault also 'wasn't hungry' and skipped his dinner." Pg. 157 ".. both instances of not eating may reinforce one another- both may express a half-buried emotional attachment." pg. 157. "Another less direct suggestion of unexpressed feeling may be found in an earlier passage, before the dog is lost, when Meursault stands on his landing- he describes the building as "quiet as the grave," reminding us of the mother's death.." pg. 158. "A final suggestion occurs later, when Meursault is in prison and Marie comes to visit him for the first and last time. She faces him accross a gap of about thrity feet.." pg. 158. "In the midst of all the noise of prisoners and visitors talking to one another, the "only oasis of silence was made by the young fellow and the old woman gazing into each other's eyes". pg. 158. “Meursault for me is then not a waif, but a man who is poor and naked, in love with the sun which leaves no shadows. Far from it being true that he lacks all sensibility, a deep tenacious passion animates him, a passion for the absolute and for the truth.” "The lie- the very heart of French Existentialism. It is the infamy of the human condition for Sartre, the gravest sin for Camus. But where Sartre suspects that the lie is inescapable, Camus glorifies his characters- and apparently himself- as men without a lie. Meursault of The Stranger, Camus tells us “refuses to lie…accepts death for the sake of truth.” "Meursault refuses to lie. Lying says more than is true and more than one feels. This is what we all do everyday to simplify life. Meursault, despite appearances, does not wish to simplify life. He says what is true. He refuses to disguise his feelings and immediately society feels threatened." "Meursault for me is then not a waif, but a man who is poor and naked, in love with the sun which leaves no shadows. Far from it being true that he lacks all sensibility, a deep tenacious passion animates him, a passion for truth." "I want to argue that Meursault neither lies nor tells the truth, because he never reaches that (meta-) level of consciousness where truth and falsity can be articulated. Moreover, he does not even have the feelings, much less feelings about his feelings, to which he is supposed to be so true. " “Kathryn McGuire…. Focuses on images of life and death in the opening section of the book, in which Meursault attends his mother’s funeral. She notes that Camus uses alternating images of light and dark to suggest the intermingling between life and death that occurs at funerals…Camus chooses for this section are reminiscent of mythological symbols relating to death and old age.” ".. that the knowledge of death is the beginning of full awareness of life. Through a series of antitheses that merge the images of death/birth, sterility/fertility, and old age/infancy, Camus denotes the physical conjunction of the antithetical sites birth and death in order to point out that living, in an existential sense, lies neither in birth nor death, but is made possible out of their conjunction. " "As psycholinguistic studies reveal, light is equated with consciousness, truth, insight, and enlightenment. Light also suggests the human qualities of man, while darkness suggests non being and the anxiety of death. The color white (the walls, the nurse's smock, the bandage on her face), although seemingly, out of place in a funeral setting, can signify innocence, but at the same time, the paleness of death." "According to Joseph Campbell's extensive studies of the heroic journey toward self-knowledge in mythology, the uninitiated individual had to pass through the bounds established by the threshold guardians into a new zone of experience. The mythological guardians acted as both instructors and barriers to the uninitiated. When the caretaker says that he is supposed to unscrew the coffin lid so Meursault can see his mother, giving him the opportunity to grasp the reality of death, Meursault refuses. " "..we either grasp the reality of death or we don't, we either live in the moment of the perceptive now or we don't- there is no middle ground. The nurse, one who normally takes care of the living, is ''near the casket'' as though guarding it." "One of the similarities was that mythic heroes generally had to cross a threshold of some sort during their initiation into a changed, presumably for the better, state of being or knowledge." "The ten old people, plus the caretaker and the nurse, make up a body of twelve, suggesting a jury, and indeed they do seem to sit together in judgement of Meursault. The coffin separates him from the twelve. The dead mother in the coffin represents death/old age/ sterility in the antithesis;Meursault represents life/ youth/fertility... Meursault's surrealistic description of them begins with sexual allusions that suggest fertility."
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