Commentary on a short passage on The Outsider (IB exam 2010)

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Commentary on a short passage on The Outsider (IB exam 2010)

Written by: Albert Camus


        Through a short glimpse of Albert Camus’s The Outsider, numerous key points are revealed. In the beginning of the passage, it is evident that the narrative is done in a first-person point of view—later named Mr. Meursault. Therefore, the narrative is due to be biased, but the readers can confirm that the portrayed is Meursault’s honest take of things, not a third-party’s point of view. The sentence structure of the opening is very short and choppy, which is understandable, amidst the unexpected death of his mother. However, Meursalut is quite indifferent to his mother’s death, confirming that “[her] death doesn’t mean anything.” It may be due to his inability to think clearly after the shocking news as he later states that “It’s almost as if mother were still alive.”

        However, the readers start to question the relationship between the son and the mother. He seems to be agitated in having to ask for his days of being off work to attend the funeral, complaining to his boss that “it’s not [his] fault.” It is ironic that Meursault thinks rudely of his boss’s attitude towards his vacancy, when he himself isn’t concerned much about the death. Throughout the rest of the passage, the sentence structures continue to be choppy, describing things in a matter-of-factly way. There is little emphasis in setting, and Meursault fails to express any enthusiasm in his narrative.

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        The pace is slow, and no major plot developments are introduced. The narrative is weighted heavily on his reflections and his thought processing of matter, so there is minimal use of dialogue, and references to dialogue are quite formal. Despite his reflections, Meursault is reluctant to reveal his emotions. This accentuates his choppy, indifferent character that doesn’t seem to possess much sympathy. The atmosphere is gloomy, because the plot is revolving around the mother’s funeral. It is interesting to note that despite “the smell of petrol and the glare of the sky,” Meursault is sound asleep. Usually, if the sky ...

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