Reaction to Part I of The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger, by Albert Camus, starts off with the main character, Mersault, announcing his mother’s death “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” Mersault reports his mother’s death in a very straightforward way; he doesn’t seem to have any sort of remorse or grief for his mother. He is emotionally indifferent to the event, and later on we see that indifference is one of his strongest character traits throughout the book. Mersault goes to the funeral home in which his mother lived in to attend the funeral. His indifference is persistent and he is cold to any human interaction and detached. However, Mersault seems to be greatly affected by anything to do with his physical senses. While visiting his mother’s coffin, he drinks coffee with the caretaker and smokes a cigarette, and seems to be at ease. He takes great notice to sensory details, especially regarding the weather. While walking outside during the funeral procession, Mersault complains about the scorching sun and how unbearable the heat is. The sun bothers him more so than his mother’s death. Through this chapter, we begin to draw on the idea that Mersault thinks that life is meaningless and that there is no purpose for human existence.
The next day, Mersault goes swimming and runs into a girl he knows named Marie. They spend the day together and go see a movie in the evening. Marie spends the night at Mersault’s but is gone when he wakes up. This sequence of events emphasizes Mersault’s general indifference. He is supposed to be in mourning, but instead he continues his regular routine and seems completely fine and unaffected. His mother’s death is supposed to be a tragedy, but Mersault dismisses it with hardly any thought. It seems like nothing has changed...