The Stranger

posted May 7, 2012, 5:26 PM by Joshua M. Patton
I had never read The Stranger by Albert Camus, but its reputation preceded it. While I personally have never drifted towards existentialist thinking, I recognize that some might find it important. Without taking into consideration the philosophical lessons of the book, as a story I was unimpressed with the novel. The characters, especially that of Meursault, make no choices in the book. The character of the Prosecutor, or more accurately the content of his argument, struck me as unbelievable to the point of being absurd (which may have been Camus's intention). It seemed that the character of Meursault made only one real choice: to shoot the Arab four more times after his initial shot. As a reader, I wanted an explanation for this action and know that were this a piece of student-fiction and not a much-revered book, any professor or peer-critic would say the same.  

The closest thing I have to a religion is Star Wars. Whenever someone over the age of 16 tells me that they have never seen a Star Wars film, rather than preach the virtues of the space opera, I merely look at them with pity. Because even if the person does watch the movie (and enjoys it) they still will not have seen it as a child. Nor will the special effects within the movie seem as magical as they did to children in the late seventies and early eighties. Thus, I feel the is why my reaction to The Stranger is what it is. This is a book for high school English classes or young readers still forming their ideas about the world. Reading this book for the first time, I have the disadvantage of my experiences and world-view. Meursault is just an ass, as is Marie, Raymond, and the Prosecutor, among others. While I see the value this book has as a piece of literature, as a reader I am merely glad it was short.