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Meursault and the Arab: A Detailed Study of Pages 57-60 of The Outsider

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Introduction

Meursault and the Arab: A Detailed Study of Pages 57-60 of The Outsider Adam Blake D0555006 World Literature Assignment Two Word Count 1188 The last pages of the first part of The Outsider, by Albert Camus, are critical to both the themes and the plot of the book. This is a pivotal moment within the book; all that has occurred before this point culminates during these few pages, and all that comes after is shaped by this moment. This point also serves at a division between Meursault's life as a freeman and his life as a prisoner. To have any meaningful comprehension of the books plot or themes one must understand this passage. Depending on one's interpretation of this passage, we can see Meursault as a victim of circumstance, or as a cold detached killer. By examining this passage and is relation to the rest of the book one obtains a unique insight into the books meaning. Also, a careful examination of this passage suggests that Meursault had no intension to kill the Arab. When one examines this particular passage of the play one begins to see the death of the Arab as a tragic accident. ...read more.

Middle

The passage also serves to further portray and confirm his existential beliefs. Meursault throughout the book acts in a self-serving manner unconcerned with the feelings or beliefs of others. This belief system can be seen quite clearly in the initial chapter when he attends his mother's funeral. The passage in question is no exception. In this passage he is primarily motivated by his physical discomfort. He does not return to the chalet because he was "unable to face the effort of climbing the wooden staircase and confronting the women again" (Camus, pg 58). He walks to the beach to escape the heat and "dazzling red glare" (Camus, pg 58). He approaches the rocks upon which the Arab sits because he desired "to escape from the sun and the effort and the women's tears" (Camus, pg 58). His desire for physical comfort also causes him to approach the Arab. He moves forward because he could no longer "stand this burning feeling any longer" (Camus, pg 59). His killing of the Arab was also motivated somewhat by his own physical discomfort. The blazing description of the sensations, experienced just prior to the Arab's death, help to explain his actions. ...read more.

Conclusion

If the final pages of part one are interpreted differently, this theme of man versus society is lost or weakened. The final pages of part one of The Outsider are crucial to the plot, characterization and theme of the book. It is only with careful evaluation of the final passage that we are able to judge the severity of Meursault's crimes. With this careful evaluation one cannot escape the fact that the crime was not premeditated and may have been an accident. This scene also furthers the characteristics of Meursault's existentialism. It provides ample evidence of his preoccupation with physical sensations and his own comfort. It is important that one interpret these final pages in a way that Meursault is seen at least to some extent as a victim of circumstance. It is only with this interpretation that one is able to appreciate fully, the man versus society theme, which is portrayed by Meursault's trial. The final pages of part one of Camus' work are arguably the most important to the book as a whole and only through the understanding of this passage can one fully understand the work in its entirety. ...read more.

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