Albert Camus’ The Outsider – Meursault
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Published: Thu, 10 May 2018
Statement of intent:
This assignment is based on Albert Camus’ The Outsider. One of the classic examples of an existentialist novel, The Outsider tells the story of an unremarkable man, living a simple, bachelor existence in Algeria. He is unmoved by his mothers death, and a day after begins a love affair with Marie Cordona. He soon after becomes involved in a violent murder and is placed on trial. Because of his refusal to lie and give in to society’s demands (pretending to feel grief and remorse), he eventually condemns himself and is put to death.
In this assignment I wish to convey Marie Cordona’s feelings about Meursault and her view of his case. Marie is a simple, uncomplicated girl who enjoys life, appears to fall in love easily, wants to marry Meursault and live a normal life. Though she is slightly shocked when Meursault tells her that his mother died only a day before their meeting at the pool, she does not rethink spending time with him or watching a comedy with him.
Like Meursault, Marie takes pleasure in physical contact; she often kisses him and enjoys the act of sex. However, Meursault’s affection for Marie is purely physical while her affection for him evokes a deeper sentimental and emotional attachment. At first she doesn’t understand Meursault’s character and is taken aback by his indifference of love: She asked me if I loved her. I told her that it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so. She looked sad. When Meursault expresses the same attitude towards marriage, again she is confused
However, though she may be disappointed, she never considers ending the relationship or does not rethink her desire to marry him and indeed, throughout the novel I believe she starts to gain an acceptance of his behaviour, an understanding perhaps. Her attraction towards him seems, in fact, to stem from the fact that she is intrigued by his persona, his strange behavior seems to be part of his appeal for her She mumbled that I was peculiar, that that was probably why she loved me but that one day I might disgust her for the very same reason.
Marie remains loyal to Meursault when he is arrested and put on trial, she visits him in prison and writes him letters and then testifies in his favor during the court case. She remains faithful and hopeful and imagines a life once Meursault is let out: …she was still smiling…she shouted again, ‘You’ll get out and we’ll get married!’ Marie never expresses appall or anger towards Meursault or his actions, she never doubts that he is an innocent man and that the crime he committed does not reflect his true self:
Marie burst into tears and said it wasn’t like that…she knew me and I hadn’t done anything wrong However, because Marie stays hopeful throughout, she never reaches the understanding Meursault attains at the end. While Meursault realizes and accepts the indifference of the universe, Marie never understands the redemptive value of abandoning hope, and her hope is therefore shattered when Meursault is eventually put to death.
For the purpose of this assignment, it has been imagined that there were some sort of funeral proceedings after Meursault’s execution. After all, though his strange behaviour remained a mystery to most that surrounded him, many did not judge him and accepted him as he was, knowing that, despite his actions he was not an evil man, nor did he have a criminal mind.
By assuming that there were funeral proceedings, a situation is created where a eulogy from the perspective of one of the people of Meursault’s close entourage would’ve been spoken out. Marie, having been intimately involved with him and having been one of those who observed and tried to analyse him, seems to be an appropriate choice for this task.
A eulogy should be personal; it shares happy memories, tells anecdotes and describes the person’s character. It also aims to express the values that were important to the deceased, highlights accomplishments and career or educational merits. The aim of this assignment is therefore to do this from Marie’s point of view, about Meursault.
I once asked Meursault if he loved me.
‘It doesn’t mean anything’ he replied, ‘but I don’t think so’.
One would naturally feel offended by such a response, and I was…at first. But I soon came to understand that this was Meursault. This was Meursault in his all his splendor and it is for this peculiar nature of his that I believe I was attracted to him, loved him even.
I first met Meursault when I was working as a typist in the office where he worked. He had always struck me as handsome young man, charming and somewhat mysterious. We had connected and enjoyed each others company. However it was short lived as I soon found a job elsewhere and left the company. I had not seen him for several months when we bumped into each other at the bathing station at the port…
It is true that I wouldn’t have thought for a single moment that his mother had died only a day earlier; we spent a wonderful afternoon swimming and enjoying the sun together, I was happy, he was happy, and we just felt so comfortable around each other that we engaged in a relationship that very day.
I was slightly taken aback when he told me his mother had died the day before, and it didn’t seem natural that he would he take me out to see a Fernandel film after such an event, but I must admit that I had soon forgotten about it. After all we were both just two young people, enjoying an easy life, a life that, for Meursault, in spite of everything had not really changed. So why were we to deprive ourselves?
Meursault was an intelligent man, though not ambitious. He valued his simple yet exotic life, over a wealthier career opportunity in Paris. He enjoyed the simple pleasures in life; lazing on the beach, swimming in the sea, going to cinemas… It is always something I loved about spending time with him, I always felt carefree, relaxed, beautiful. I could always be myself around him, he never judged or complained. I’ll miss our beach excursions, our romantic nights to the cinema, and our playful adventures in the sea.
Meursault was uninterested in grieving death, proposing marriage, loving even. But he had a passion for something I believe to be much more admirable. Honesty was what I valued most in him. He was an honest man, purely and sometimes painfully, and maybe he did not love me in the conventional sense of the word, but he was in love with something much greater, something our society today seems to value less and less; Meursault was stubbornly yet admirably in love with truth.
I still remember visiting him at the prison; I was so full of hope and blind determination that when it would all be over, we would be married, and we would go swimming again, we would enjoy life together. Maybe I thought the jury would be able to see the man he really was, the man I knew, and would spare him.
Yes, he did kill a man. Yes, he never showed grief for his mother’s death. But he was no murderer. He was a criminal only to our society’s rules and codes of conduct. Is it wrong not to pretend grief? Not to pretend remorse? Love? In this conventional society yes; pretending and lying would have saved Meursault. But he was true to himself, he refused to be a hypocrite and pretend to emotions he did not feel and for that I believe he cannot be blamed.
Unfortunately it is for that reason that he was condemned and that he is no longer here with us today. But I hope that all of you gathered here now, think of him like I do, not as a murderer, not as a criminal, but as a man who, without any heroic pretensions, agreed to give his life for the truth. And for this I believe he deserves our respect and admiration.
Meursault, je t’aime.
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