Sunday, April 26, 2009

Narrative Style&Linguistic Features

Narrative Style

Camus chose to write this novel as a first person narrative. It is Meursault who recounts what happens, what he feels, and what he sees, expressing himself in short, compact sentences. This makes the character of Meursault believable to the reader as we get insight into his reasoning. Meursault is considered as an observer, where he sees the surface but does not analyze the undercurrents. Unlike many first-person narrators, Meursault makes no attempt to filter his account through an awareness of its meaning.

Linguistic Features

The Outsider is separated into two parts: Part One and Part Two
Part One opens with the death of mother and ends with the murder of the Arab. By separating the story in to two parts, the reader can see how Meursault is affected by various deaths. There are three major deaths in this novel, at the beginning, middle and the end;
  1. Meursault's mother dies
  2. Death of Arab
  3. Meursault is executed
By including the image of death throughout the novel, the reader can predict, or foreshadow what is going to happen to Meursault at the end of the novel. It can also be seen as a way for the reader to distinguish if Meursault is actually an outsider. At the beginning of the novel, when Meursault's mother had died, it is possible to see Meursault as an ordinary person, who does not want to show his feelings, therefore hiding his sadness within him. The lack of emotion or ambition throughout Part One does not greatly represent that Meursault is an outsider. He wrote the letter because his friend asked him, and he has desire to be with a woman. If the story was not titled "the Outsider", it is probably hard to tell that Meursault is abnormal. However, in Part Two, the reader notices a clear difference in Meursault. Everything he claims seems to prove that he was guilty for the murder, and he does not regret in killing the Arab. Camus separated the novel into two parts to emphasize the abnormality of Meursault compared to ordinary people.

The sentences used in this novel are short, unconnected statements, which emphasize the boredom or the lack of enthusiasm in Meursault's actions. The style used emphasizes the narrative style, which contribute to creating Meursault's character. Even though there are no jargon used, his description is very detailed, which reflect the character of Meursualt. 

The sentences gets even shorter towards the ends of the book, especially in page 102.
  • The judges returned. The jury was very rapidly read a series of questions. I heard 'guilty of murder...', 'premeditation...', 'extenuating circumstances.'
This passage shows that Meursualt is eager to hear the punishment put on him. The short sentences represent rush or impatience of Meursault. It can also represent the built up of tension before Meursualt is being taken away.

The story is chronological, which allows the reader to follow the order of events, especially because of Meursault's descriptions. Meursault does not seem to care much about the time, or anything around him in Part One, however, during his imprisonment, he becomes more aware of the time. 

There are words or phrases that are being repeated several times in the novel. Some examples include:
  • "It's not my fault"
  • "I couldn't be bothered"
  • "it annoyed me"
By repeating the same phrase several times in the novel, it creates the character of Meursault, and makes his character believable. 
Another technique used by Camus is creating snap shots of scenes in page 66:
  • "Raymond, the beach, the swim, the fight, the beach again, the little spring, the sun and the five shots."
By listing out what has happened to Meursault before the murder, it creates an image that he is confused about what has actually happened and trying to think back at what he has done. To the reader, this list of events create snap shots, (that we can visualize in our heads) which is like one scene of a movie. 

Camus uses wide range of vocabulary to describe the situation that Meursault is in, making him an observer. 
  • "The Arabs were advancing slowly and they were already much nearer" (page 54)
By using the word "advancing", it sounds as though the Arabs are an army, approaching Meursault. This can also create a thought of a fight, building the tension before the gunshot. 

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