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The importance of Heat in The Outsider and Like Water for Chocolate

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The importance of Heat in The Outsider and Like Water for Chocolate Hudson Liao 002424-031 May 2009 Mulgrave Independent School 002424 Word Count: 1,415 The presiding judge in Albert Camus' The Outsider wants to find meaning behind Meursault's 'unimaginable' killing of an Arab. He asks the prisoner what made him shoot an innocent man? Meursault, 'overcome by the heat,' tries to explain he 'had no intention of killing the Arab' and adds that 'it was because of the sun.' His answer makes no sense to the judge and even sounds 'nonsensical' to Meursault,1 but the sun and its heat and light tell us what kind of emotional state Meursault is in when he pulls the trigger. Instead of telling us that he feels anger or passion and other of emotions, Camus shows us the degree of emotion in Meursault through the references to heat and its different intensities. We learn about this character through how much he notices the heat. Similarly, Laura Esquivel, the author of Like Water for Chocolate conveys Tita's passionate nature mainly through the use of heat in her cooking. The metaphor of heat in Like water for Chocolate symbolizes Tita's emotional state of love and passion for Pedro: 'Yes, a thousand times. ...read more.


the sunlight splintering into flakes of fire on the sand and sea.'11 When Meursault sees the Arab again, his emotions are more intense. The passion and anger are in the air and the heat of those passions has an impact on Meursault. He is under a 'flood of blinding light falling from the sky,' and the 'hot blast' hits his head: 'I keyed up every nerve to fend off the sun and the dark befuddlement it was pouring into me.'12 The passion is getting more intense, and the 'vivid light' and 'red glare' make him more confused. He sees the Arab and feels his emotions get more confused: 'the heat was beginning to scorch my cheeks. It was the same sort of heat as at my mother's funeral and I had the same disagreeable sensations.'13 Meursault compares this day with the day he buried his mother; on that hot day the sun made him feel sleepy and uncomfortable. The heat and light from the sun on the day he kills the Arab gets very intense that the sun blinds him and he feels distraught: 'I couldn't stand it any longer, and took another step forward. I knew it was a fool thing to do; I wouldn't get out of the sun by moving on a yard or so. ...read more.


An itch in the center of her body kept her from sitting properly in her chair. She began to sweat, imagining herself on horseback with her arms clasped around one of Pancho Villa's men . . .'19Gertrudis tries to find a solution to stifle the intense heat she is experiencing but the agony of the heat is impossible to control. She tries to: '. . . [imagine] the refreshing shower ahead of her,' as a way to strain the heat: 'but unfortunately she was never able to enjoy it, because the drops that fell from the shower never made it to her body: they evaporated before they reached her.' 20 Heat is used as a literary effect in both novels Like Water for Chocolate and The Outsider. Camus and Esquivel both seem to share the same idea to integrate heat into their novels, and the main difference is how they connect heat to the characters' emotional states. Camus uses heat to emphasize the negative side of Meursault's emotional state, whereas Esquivel connects heat directly with passion and love. Not only did the authors use heat as a literary effect, they also assimilated heat through a subtle approach by using the symbolism of heat to reveal the characters' feelings. ...read more.

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