The Stranger by Albert Camus is a short novel about a man pondering, and finding, the value of life. Mr. Camus is a French philosopher and existentialist; this is his most famous novel.
- 142 pages
- Publisher : Independently published
- Language : English
- ISBN-13 : 979-8836137175
This book was assigned to my daughter in her English class. I try to read all the books assigned to my children at school to be able to discuss them. Several, I enjoyed much more than they did, others… not so much.
But there’s always a lot to talk about.
I was never assigned this book in school, so I was happy for the opportunity. The Stranger by Albert Camus did not disappoint, it’s a layered story which made me think about it for weeks after I finishing to read it.
When a priest on death-row tries to convince Meursault to become a Christian, our protagonist lashes out and passionately argues, maybe for the first time in his life, for the value of life. Afterwards, Meursault has an epiphany – living is a privilege and relishes every moment of life.
Even though Meursault realizes that no one cares for him, he also has a transformative moment. He totally separates himself from society’s expectations, which frees his mind allowing him to actually be happy.
On the surface, and knowing a bit about existentialism, the narrative seems to point towards cosmic emptiness. There no G-d above, no Hell below. Religion, government institutions, and ideas like integrity and belief are simply distractions meant to give people some sort of an illusion that they serve a purpose, hopefully bigger than themselves.
This is an excellent novel that’s difficult to like, there are no likeable characters and the protagonist is not one you could root for. There’s no definite ending, even though I was the impression that Meursault was executed, but there is no hint of that on second thought.
Meursault discovers that his mother died in a nursing home, however to many he seem as uncaring. He meets a former coworker and begins an affair with her. Our protagonist befriends a pimp that helps him humiliate an ex-girlfriend and the two spend a weekend at the beach.
On that faithful weekend, Meursault kills a man and get arrested. At his trial, he is not only condemned for murder, but also for his cold-heartedness towards the death of his mother, and the way he treats his friends.
In the jail cell, awaiting his appointment with Madame Guillotine, Meursault ponders his meaningless life, the meaningless murder, followed by a meaningless death.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I borrowed this book
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