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Existentialism and Nature.

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Introduction

Ian Clubb Yr. 12 Existentialism and Nature 'The Outsider' or 'L'Etranger' was written by the French author Albert Camus and was published in 1942. Albert Camus lived in Algeria, where the location of his story is set. Camus believed in existentialism, a belief that life had no meaning and there was no existence of an afterlife. The protagonist in the Outsider is Meursault, who Camus uses to portray existentialist beliefs. Meursault was a working class man living in Algeria. During that period racial and religious discrimination was a common occurrence. Meursault eventually kills an Arab man during his vacation by the beach, not a particularly heinous crime at that time if you are white and a Christian. However, Meursault gives his motive for the murder as the power of the sun. His attorney and the police offer him a chance to get away with the crime by manipulating the truth and repenting his acts. Being an existentialist and with strong individual moral beliefs he chooses not to repent or lie and takes the full punishment. Throughout the book Meursault responds to nature as if he himself is part of it. ...read more.

Middle

The temptation within Meursault was raised to a higher level and a contrast between Meursault's true nature and social expectations is established. The day after his mother's funeral Meursault decided to go out for a swim. Socially and religiously an unacceptable act, as Meursault should be in mourning. During this outing Meursault meets Marie, who he feels attracted to. Meursault feels at home, physically alive and free from troubles when he is in the sea. 'The whole sky in my eyes and it was all blue and gold'. (P. 24) The use of these royal colours represents the feelings that he has within him. The sky is an indicator to Meursault, which he allows him to follow but it can also cause him harm. 'When the sun got too hot, she dived off and I followed.' (P. 24) Marie at that point leads Meursault into imitating her actions as heat imagery is brought in. Jumping into the sea is a way of avoiding the sun. Metaphorically Marie is the sea and Meursault is the sky and Marie is allowing Meursault to seduce her. Marie is astonished at Meursault when he tells her that his mother died the day before after he had invited her to the movies. ...read more.

Conclusion

The dog symbolizes societies fears of those who are different. When Meursault is in the court room, he is judged by the jury which does not judge him for his crime but for his reaction at his mother's funeral. The questions that the witnesses and Meursault receive have no real relation to the murder. The court was not trying Meursault for the murder of the Arab, but for his behavior at his mother's funeral, ie social behaviour. Camus' strategy was for the reader to judge Meursault's actions as an individual prepared to die for the truth and set reviled and feared of being different by society. The court room was hot and Marie was present at his trials, Meursault was not interested in the jury's verdict but the current physical attraction towards Marie. 'Marie came in. She was wearing a hat and she still looked beautiful. But I preferred her with her hair loose. From where I was sitting I could just make out the slight swell of her breasts and the familiar little pout of her lower lip.'(P.90) After being separated from Marie for so long, he still has the physical attraction to her body, which for most people would appear superficial when compared to the predicament he is in. Meursault was only longing for Marie's body and not her personality. ...read more.

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