The Stranger by Albert Camus has been a book claimed by the critics and studied for hundreds of students of English and French literature. For me, after listening and reading this book, I will say that Camus philosophy of individualism and the presence of the absurd in this novel are just so strong and cunning that I cannot deny the accuracy of this theories and points of view.
I cannot help but think about how this generation of millennials is so alike to Camus main character, Meursault. Selfish, individualistic, looking only for the well-being of the self, lazy, and reluctant to participate in activities that are not part of their interests. Part of his individualism that seems more like a disconnection from the world is seen in his “abnormal” behavior compared to the social rules and expected conduct.
This is highly related to the absurd that Camus seems to denounce in this novel. The absurd of being sentenced to death mainly because he did not grieve this mother’s death, and the absurd of killing a man because the day was too hot and the sun blinded him. I don’t think Meursault was a psychopath or anything like that, but he simply doesn’t care about the rest and acted irrationally to a certain level.
Meursault opens the door to unhappiness for his careless actions and his selfishness or his whateverness, and that is why he is an outsider, a stranger. He has never felt remorse for anything nor shows real emotions. His lack of remorse for killing a man, the carelessness of his situation, points his misfit behavior, which counters the social expectation. He goes against what is expected for a decent and moral human being, so he is marked as someone not even human.
Meursault mentions the “machine”. The machine, the system, the government, humanity, and society. He states the truth: nobody can win against it. So, why to oppose it when it is inevitable to lose it all? One part that really shocked me about this book is the implication that human forgiveness does not matter to God or at least to Meursault. At the end is God the one who will judge your soul. Even though humans are the ones given sentence and that is another part of Meursault’s speech that is rational enough to believe it; we all are going to die now or later, so everybody is guilty and will be judged by the same God that will judge him.
This book is very recommendable, and I will encourage everybody to read it if they can. Not playing the game will get you killed is Camus’ summary of the novel, and it totally makes sense. Read the book, listen to the audiobook, and comment on this review because there is still a lot to say about this novel and the philosophy it contains!
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