The Stranger

The Effectiveness of Violence in The Stranger

Albert Camus's novel The Stranger is an extremely explicit work describing violent acts witnessed by a narrator who seems to be wholly unaffected by their brutality. The novel begins with death - "Mamman died today" (3) - and ends with the presumed demise of Meursault, the main character. The body of the work contains numerous bloody acts: the premeditated abuse of an ex-girlfriend, gratuitous cruelty towards a pet dog, a street fight, and a disagreement that ultimately climaxes with a murder on an Algerian beach. The Stranger presents a startling look at what it means to be a human, to live, and to have the ability to take another's life. Camus's steadfast depiction of violence reveals the inner attitudes of his characters towards life and death.

The Stranger is categorically absurdist: Camus conveys the view that human existence is without order, and his work criticizes a culture that seeks to find meaning in a meaningless world. Camus reveals two contrasting views of human life: society's and Meursault's. Society seeks to find explanations for unanswerable questions. In the microcosmic courtroom of Meursault's trial, for example, the jurors and the lawyers continually focus on why Meursault...

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