Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Definition---> completely illogical or ridiculous

In the novel Albert Camus exposes different types of absurdities, these being the absurdity in Meursault's character and the trial. Throughout the book the readers are revealed to Meursault's strangeness and so he is seen as a rather "weird" person. After the murder of the Arab the trial can be seen as rather absurd since it is mainly being based on the fact that he didn't cry at his mother's funeral and also for being absolutely honest.

Absurdity in Character

At the Funeral:
Meursault's absurdity is expressed throughout the whole novel, this is first shown at the funeral of his mother where he refuses to see his mothers body. At first readers think of it as being understandable, however when the caretaker asks him 'Why not?' (12) it makes the readers consider the abnormality of not wanting to see his mother's body. At this point the caretakers reaction of the situation helps express the absurdity of Meursault. This though does not make the readers think of Meursault as bizzare but later on when he expresses his interest of the effect of the humidity and heat on the rate of decay on his mothers body instead of mourning, it makes readers speculate him as somewhat odd. 

At Home:
When Meursault gets back home after the funeral he does not do much, he rather spends the day alone. He is revealed as an observer because he spends his afternoon on his balcony watching the streets. This shows how he is curious but at the same time "stalkerish": 

"First of all it was families out for a walk, two little boys in sailor suits, with the trousers below their knees, looking a bit cramped in their stiff clothes, and a little girl with a big pink bow and black patent leather shoes. Behind them the mother, and enormous woman in a brown silk dress, and the father, a small, rather frail man whom I know by sight." (24)

Meursault does not believe his actions are absurd since he thinks of his day as a "typical Sunday" (26) while the readers think of him as rather awkward. Readers at first don't think much of it however further on in the novel when his obsession of curiosity is a reoccurring motif he is seen as crossing the limit of observing. This is when he is having lunch at CĂ©leste and a woman sits across from him, he is rather surprised but after h watches her eat. When she finishes he decides to follow her until he looses sight of her, this is when it is a shock for the readers and he is seen as someone who is curious but out of the ordinary. However it is ironic because after losing sight of her he thinks to himself; "I thought how peculiar she was, but I fairly soon forgot about her,"(46) and this represents him as being even more abnormal. Meursault chooses to live as honest as he wishes and therefore stalking to him seems normal.

The Heat:
During the novel heat is very important because it always seems to intervene with his actions. It makes him easily irritated, for example he doesn't fancy Marie in the sun, he kills the Arab in the sun and on the eve of his death he realizes he has been happy. This not only shows how easily annoyed he gets but the impact of the sun on him. This is also presented further on in the novel when the room Meursault and the magistrate are talking in gets warmer and warmer and Meursault gets irritated and "snaps" at the magistrate for talking about God (68) and insisting him in having faith in God.

Meursault always feels as if he is watching and not doing the actions. For example, when he shoots the Arab he feels as if he watched himself shoot him instead of actually shooting him. This is also shown as previously discussed when he is on his balcony watching people on the streets and when he doesn't get a police officer because he wants to see what Raymond is doing to his mistress. All his unusual actions make him a very absurd and "weird" person and separate him from our society.

His Conclusions: 
"As if this great outburst of anger had purged all my ills, killed all my hopes, I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the nightsky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifferent of the world. And finding it so much like myself, in fact so fraternal, I realized that I'd been happy, and that I was still happy." (117)
At the end of the novel Meursault analyzes his life and concludes that he lives in a life of no meaning and no hope. He realizes of his absurd position in society, how he was an "outsider", but he mentions how even so he had been happy of his life. 
Absurdity of the Trial
When Meursault is arrested he is asked if he had chosen a lawyer and when he confesses that he didn't and he doesn't need one because his case was simple the examining magistrate answers by saying:

"'That's your opinion. But this is the law. If you don't choose a lawyer yourself, we'll appoint one for you automatically.' I thought it most convenient that the legal system should take care of such details. I told him so. He agreed and said it showed how well the law worked." (63)

It is ironic that the examining magistrate says that the law works well because during the trial readers are shown the absurdity of the situation. The trial is centered on his mother, he is asked why he had sent her to an old home, and why he hadn't cried at her funeral. It would have been alright if the court had addressed the topic for background and possible motifs for him killing the Arab. However, instead of the court questioning him for killing the Arab, it revolves around his actions at his mothers funeral. Meursault chooses not to force himself to cry at his mothers funeral and so he is being punished for his actions. So Meursault gets sentenced to death for not following society's unspoken rules.

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