The Stranger by Albert Camus

the strangerThis small powerful novella revolves around a young man who has a different kind of thinking and personality than “normal people”. He was introverted and rather kept to himself than opened up with others. He was a loner, wasn’t one of the kind to follow traditions, like marriage or maybe love. He would only listen to people he thought have an interesting speech. He wouldn’t engage himself in long talks and conversations, preferring to nod along and stay quiet; not adding in any comments along observing the atmosphere.

The book starts with one simple quote: “Mother died today.” (Page 1). So simple, but actually the start of all the problems that would lead to the end of this story. The man’s mother had died after a long time in the Nursing House for Old People. The man had to go and join the funeral. He could not feel the grief for his mother. He stayed expressionless through the entire funeral while all his mother’s elderly friends cried and sobbed in grief. He didn’t remember thinking about his mother after that, mainly because they were not close anymore after he left her in the Nursing home. He had to find a job to support himself, without supporting his mother too because he wasn’t quite rich anyways.

I find this story is very influencing me. It  opens up the mind of my consciousness. It’s very similar to a story I’ve read some time ago The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Both the authors captured the way a human think perfectly behind their actions. Both of the main characters were shunned out by society just  because they were different.  They think differently and do things differently, unlike how “normal people” think and do. You can read my writing about how those two books are interlinked in here: https://elysafaithng.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/the-stranger-vs-the-catcher-in-the-rye/

The Stranger isn’t black and white–like most fiction stories I’ve read. There is no villains and there is no heroes. It’s just a normal man struggling to repay for his crime. He shot an Arab not because of he wanted to kill. Well, he was in the middle of having a sun stroke and the Arab came upon him with a knife. There were many backstory incidents that caused him to kill the Arab. His friend, Raymond had a problem with that same Arab, involving the Arab’s sister and how she cheated on him to get some money. Raymond was really angry when he found out. He punished her dearly. Ever since the two of them and the man’s girlfriend, Marie came out to the beach to visit Mason, the Arab and his gang was tailing them. So the man took Raymond’s revolver to stop him from doing anything rash, but the group ended up in a scuffle, injuring Raymond’s arm. The man just decided to go about when he came across the Arab, who still held the aggressive stance. In the end, the man shot him with the revolver five times, killing him.

The man was arrested. There was a huge court case against him because of the killing. Everything was said again and again, starting from when his mother died at the funeral  when he didn’t shed any tear or show any signs of grieving. But strangely enough, the man didn’t feel guilty. He didn’t really mind his life in prison, and didn’t notice any different from his daily life, surprising the policemen. There were lots of courts and trials and in the end he was pronounced guilty. He was to die.

He didn’t believe in God. He said that to the chaplain who tried to convince him to turn to God at the last moment. He said that God didn’t help him, and he should not be forced to believe God when he didn’t want to. I find that alright. Everybody think differently and it doesn’t matter who they believe in and who they don’t. The chaplain persisted, using examples of other prisoners before they died, how they had turned and begged to God for forgiveness to their sins. I came to the point at getting annoyed at the chaplain because of his continuing bugging. So what? You can’t force anyone to say that the sky is blue if they think the sky is green. In the end, the man got so annoyed he screamed at the chaplain’s face to leave, dropping his usual calm personality.

He thought that he was happy to die in the end. He was glad that he was able to start a new life. As his death day came near, he wasn’t scared, but he was ready. I totally love him! Thanks to Albert Camus who wrote this book.

Camus was a French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He died in a road accident on January 4, 1960 in France.

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