Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Reader Response Criticism

2226 Words9 Pages
Reader Response Criticism to Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)

In The Stranger (The Outsider), Albert Camus anticipates an active reader that will react to his text. He wants the reader to form a changing, dynamic opinion of Meursault. The reader can create a consciousness for Meursault from the facts that Meursault reports. By using vague and ambiguous language, Camus stimulates the reader to explore all possibilities of meaning. Camus also intends to shock the reader into rereading passages. Through discussion of narrative structure, the opening lines, the role of pity, resentment toward Meursault’s judges, and the relationship between murder and innocence, I will prove that Camus’ purpose is to bring the reader to
…show more content…
The reader is intentionally left to compare Meursault’s impression on themselves with the consciousness that Camus creates. Camus uses this other, reader-created Meursault as a bridge and a tool to put the reader in Meursault’s shoes. On trial, the reader compares the mental reaction of Camus’ Meursault with their consciousness for Meursault. Already the reader sympathizes with Meursault (ostensibly because we create his consciousness and it is inherently similar to the reader’s), but in the court, Camus has the reader to place themselves on trial. The reader introspects on whether they are guilty of indifference to society. Camus has the reader create a consciousness for Meursault so that Camus can inspire introspection in the reader.

Camus anticipates the reader will re-read his startling opening. By the opening lines, he sets a tone and standard that the reader should continually reassess their attitude toward Meursault. Aujord’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. J’ai reçu un télégramme de l’asile: << Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués. >> Cela ne veut rien dire. C’était peut-être hier (L’Etranger 9). At first, Camus shocks the reader into believing that Meursault does not care about the death of his mother. Camus’ intention, however, is to compel the reader to create a dynamic approach to Meursault.

More about Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Reader Response Criticism

Get Access