Meursault: an Outsider or an Insider? | Nasrin Islam

Meursault: an Outsider or an Insider? | Nasrin Islam

Meursault: an Outsider or an Insider?
Nasrin Islam

Abstract: The Outsider (1942) is an explication of Camus’s idea of the absurdity of human existence. Here we find a protagonist who has no specific goal or aim in life not because he is undirected or unsure of himself but because he knows that life is meaningless. This knowledge results in an acute stoicism in Meursault and seems to make him an outsider not only to his surrounding world but also to his own life. But if we judge him through the incidents he narrates, we don’t get the real Meursault. We can rather understand him perfectly if we analyse his confrontation with the sun. The way he constantly faces the hot sun instead of taking refuge under any shade shows his stubbornness, his challenge to the benign indifference of this world towards human existence. The way he faces all his misfortunes shows him as a man who has resolved not to be hurt or distressed in any way. But if we examine his character closely, we don’t fail to trace his emotion and attachment which he mentions very briefly and casually. Thus it should not be overlooked that in his utter loneliness during his prison life he thinks of his mother over and over again, and it is Marie, his girlfriend, who makes him painfully aware of how stagnant his life has become. In fact, we can say that these sudden paroxysms overshadow his apathy for life. Therefore, we can reach a conclusion that this detachment and indifference are his deliberate impositions which tend to hide his real self, but only unsuccessfully.

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Published in Fall 2008

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