The Outsider

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Albert Camus states that “In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death” (Camus, 18). In the book The Outsider, Meursault defies local convention by not showing the sadness that is expected of him at his mother’s funeral. Ultimately, his life is dependant on this very decision of whether or not to show emotion. In the society that Meursault lives in, one is expected to conform to their standards and social norms. Anyone who deviates from these norms is considered an outcast and destined to die at the hands of society. Meursault was expected to show outwards signs of grief whether it was real or not. Even if the grief is artificial, most people will play to the audience and show signs…show more content…
Meursault also refuses to conform on a higher level. When one experiences emotions, they project them to the world. In Meursault’s case, does not allow himself to follow the acceptable path and display the anticipated emotions. This first started after Meursault was arrested. When his lawyer came to visit and question him in his cell, he wanted to find out if and why Meursault lacked emotion after such a traumatic event. His lawyer “learned that I’d ‘displayed a lack of emotion’ on the day of mother’s funeral” (Camus, 64). It appears absurd to have to ask one if they felt anything on the day in which their loved one died. Especially in the society Meursault lives, people are expected to cry at their mother’s funeral. Even if Meursault did not feel grief or emotions on that day, people in his society are expected to lie about it. Even if lying is not necessarily the right thing to do, it is the standard and obvious thing to do. Society expects you to cry and if you do not, society expects you to conform. Meursault is considered an outsider for this reason; he denies himself the opportunity to lie. People lie for numerous reasons; to protect themselves, to run away from the truth, and even to escape death. Sometimes, lying appears like the only way out. Meursault however, felt as if lying was not an appropriate choice even though it would save
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