Novel: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
Format: Hard Cover
Source: OC Public Library
I am still trying to figure out this book. The Stranger is a short novel with just 117 pages. Here is what I understood. Its the story of Meursault which starts from his mother’s death. As the novel progresses we come to know that Meursault is a straightforward guy. He leaves his mother in an old age home as he is financially incapable of providing for her. When his mother dies, he agonizes over asking for a leave to attend her funeral! From the moment he knows of the funeral, he wants it to be over. When he reaches the old age home, he refuses to see his mother for the last time. He shows no pain of losing her. The justification he gives is that they have grown apart in the last few years and he felt no connection with her anymore. He comes back as soon as the funeral finishes.
The very next day of his return, he asks one of his colleagues he fancies out for a date. And thus begins their relationship. When she proposes marriage, he agrees. But he says, he could have married any girl if the girl would have asked. It remains same for him, marry or not marry. And all women are same for him, he can marry anyone.
He is one of those guys who would say exactly what they think when asked a question without sugarcoating it. When his mother died, and people asked if he is okay, he answered he is ok and even meant it. This behavior of his perplexed others. Because they expected him to mourn his mother for a long time. They expected him to cry at her funeral and to say something in her honor, not act like he was forced to attend the funeral. This nature of him lands him in trouble when he kills a man in the second half of the novel. His attitude towards his mother plays a pivotal role in deciding his punishment.
Meursault has his own thinking, his own values, and beliefs, which differ from the society. And this makes others uncomfortable around him. So they want him to have the same values, thoughts, and beliefs as them. When he doesn’t do so, the society calls him immoral, insensitive, dispassionate, evil, etc. He was wrong in killing someone, but I don’t believe he deserved the harsh punishment he got. At the end, it seemed as if he got being punished for his behavior at his mother’s death than for the murder he committed.
A different type of novel than I am used to reading. Would recommend to at least read once.
Have you read this book? What do you think?