The Hero in Camus’s the Stranger (the Outsider)

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Certain novels include a character who, based solely on his actions, would appear to be evil, but in an in-depth examination, can be seen in a different, more sympathetic light. The character Meursault, in Albert Camus’s The Stranger, is notable for this description. While his murderous crime and indifference to emotions make him seem to be cretinous, his dramatic transformation at the end of the story make us feel for him. When he finally grasps the theme of the book, embracing the “gentle indifference” of the universe, he also grabs our hearts, in becoming an “absurd” hero. To begin, the outside observer of Meursault would find him a distressingly hardened criminal. Most notable, of course, is his cold-blooded murder of the Arab. When…show more content…
Along with the characters in the early stages of the book, the trial in Part 2 parallels the absurd conditions which define Meursault’s life. The prosecutor not only finds him guilty of the Arab’s murder, but also of the murder of his mother, through indifference. While his actions at the funeral were completely irrelevant, the prosecutor links them to the murder, satirizing the whole legal system. The audience generally finds the whole scene unfair and begins to sympathize with Meursault. Lastly, Meursault’s dramatic transformation at the end of the book, summarizes the absurdity of the life he had been living. Where previously his actions and violence were both emotionless, he breaks out in his attack on the chaplain. Meursault says, ”I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world,” and truly he does. Yet, his final emotional revelation is met with the emotionless guillotine. Audiences weep when realizing that such a dramatic change in life is met with cold, cruel death, completing his transformation from monster to absurd hero. Why the readers are so affected by Meursault’s condition ties in with the theme. Camus says that the universe is an uncaring place, but coming to grips with this, and your eventual death, leads to a happy life. When the story begins, Meursault cannot comprehend
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