Albert Camus-the Outsider

1194 Words Nov 24th, 2010 5 Pages
“Probably no European writer of his time left so deep a mark on the imagination.” – Conor Cruise O’Brien.
First published in French as L’Etranger in 1942, Albert

Camus’ The Outsider addresses the constrictive nature of society and what happens when an individual tries to break free from the conformity forced upon him by staying true to himself, and following his own ideal of absolute truth and sincerity in every action. Propelled more by the philosophy of existentialism and the notion of the absurd than plot and characters, Camus’ novel raises many questions about life, and answers them in a final chilling climax.

The plot of The Outsider revolves around a central act of unmeditated violence on a beach, proving that “the darkest
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Existentialism refers to the philosophy that questions life which exists in a hostile environment. Camus, along with his friend, fellow writer, and French Resistance leader Jean-Paul Sartre pushed this train of thought into mainstream culture. In the extended essay The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus realises the only philosophical question worth asking is whether or not to commit suicide. The absurd nature of life referred to is the incompatibility of incomprehensible circumstances such as impending death, cruelty, violence, genocide and racism, and the overwhelming desire for, and expectation of a happy life and the principles of optimism. One primary example of the absurd given in the text is the co-existence of the suffering and joy in life. This view of absurdity is shared with the existentialist Simone de Beauvoir who contends that the suffering in death is a “scandal”. The hostile environment, or constant, harsh circumstances are represented in the text by the oppressive heat of the sun which is ever-present at the side of Meursault’s consciousness. He feels it as he walks to his mother’s funeral service through the French countryside; He feels it beating down on him when he’s out swimming with a girl, Marie; he feels its uncomfortable, abrasive fire inescapably as he fires the bullets into the Arab’s body. Meursault becomes aware of the absurdity of life on the eve of his death as he realises that he’s “happy”, and
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