The Stranger

The Stranger: Existential Martyrdom

The death of a loved one is typically one of the most emotionally distressing events people face, particularly when that person is a parent. In most societies, it would be considered taboo for a son to respond to his parent's demise with indifference. However, in The Stranger, readers first meet the protagonist when he tells them, "Maman died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know" (3). This seemingly impassive statement typifies the ostensible lack of emotion and detachment that the main character, Meursault, exhibits throughout the novel, and for which he is unfairly vilified and condemned.

In the first chapter of Camus's novel, Meursault speaks of his mother's funeral in terms of the itinerary he must follow to fit it into his schedule, as though he is bothered that it is interrupting his usual routine. He says he must travel "about 80 kilometers" on the "two o'clock bus....That way I can...come back tomorrow night." He assures himself that after the funeral, "the case will be closed, and everything will have a more official feel to it," expressing his notion that the funeral is like a business dealing that he can take care of and then file away (3). This seems to...

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