The way a person reacts to ordinary situations determines the opinions of othersbased on their behavior. Yet, when this behavior is abnormal or different fromthe rest of society, it causes society to form an opinion based totally on apersons behavior not their true personality. In Meursaults case, hisstrange opinions and unexpected remarks put him in this position, without everreally giving him an opportunity to be truly understood. However, Meursaultcannot change his actions and behaviors from the past, therefore making himresponsible in the society he freely chooses to live in.
Meursaults completeindifference to society and human relationships causes him to appear as theactual stranger with those he encounters, which eventually leads to hisincarceration and inevitable date with the guillotine. Meursault is definitely aman who is set in his ways. He has his own opinions and outlooks on life andbecause of that fact he is constantly reminded of his inadequacies withinsociety. His refusal to look at his mother one last time after she had passedaway seemed pointless to Meursault at the time, where as the funeral directorviewed this as extremely odd: We put the cover on, but Im supposed tounscrew the casket so you can see her. He was moving toward the casket when Istopped him. He said, You dont want to? I answered, No. He wasquiet, and then I was embarrassed because I felt I shouldnt have said that.
He looked at me and then asked, Why not? but without criticizing, as if hejust wanted to know. I said, I dont know. (Camus 6) The difference ofopinion between Meursault and all of society, but in this example the funeraldirector, brought about a feeling of inadequacy to Meursault and an appearanceof him as a stranger to society. Alice J. Strange explains his situationperfectly by saying: Holding Meursault to his words, and recognizing the voidsthey reveal, the reader sees Meursault as the stranger. (Strange 3)Throughout the novel, these encounters and/or relationships gradually setMeursault aside from society. His encounter with the Arab shows how the presenceof other people in his life makes absolutely no impression on him. Taking theArabs life was something he did as a natural reaction, he pulled the triggerthinking it was justified where as any normal human being would think otherwise.
Once on trial, Meursault constantly observed the people in the courtroomas if he had no idea of how the rest of society lived. Every thing he saw wasnew to him and it brought him a feeling of excitement, as if he was enjoyingbeing on trial. Fear only came after his verdict.
He didnt even consider hisfate early on in the trial because he was in awe of the rest of society; theirbehaviors and actions were all new to him. In chapter three part two Meursaultexplained this by saying: Usually people didnt pay much attention to me. Ittook some doing on my part to understand that I was the cause of all theexcitement. I said to the policeman, Some crowd! He told me it was becauseof the press and he pointed to a group of men at a table just below the jurybox.
He said, Thats them. (83-84) The only thing Meursault is worriedabout is the press, not the fact that his fate is about to be determined by agroup of people that dont even know him. He doesnt even care about deathat this point, only how he is excited to see all these new people and be able towatch the court proceedings. Before Meursaults incarceration, he lived a lifeof desire based on his own satisfaction. His life was completely self-centeredand focused on his own physical pleasures. Meursaults obsession with his owndesires can be explained by saying that: His contempt for man-madenecessities, such as religion, morality, government, is supreme; but hisattitude toward natural coercion, hunger, sex, the weather, etc., though lessexplicit, seems almost equally disdainful.
Meursault is a non-participant (Carruth8-9). He took absolutely no consideration of others feelings and how hisactions affected them. Meursaults love of smoking, eating, drinking, havingsex, swimming and being outside, all of which are physical pleasures, are takento extremes. Take away these and try to imagine what Meursault would be like.
Hewould be practically lifeless because he wouldnt enjoy anything. He is neverconcerned with what is going