The Stranger by Albert Camus

For today, I read The Stranger by Albert Camus.

The following authors listed The Stranger:

Stanley Crawford, Edwidge Danticat (LOVE this name, as I’ve referenced before haha), Denise Gess, Barry Hannah, Kent Haruf, Jim Harrison and Heidi Julavits.

When we started the blog (four years ago! It’s amazing for me to think we’ve been doing it that long) I remember marking The Stranger as already read in the book because I had no real interest in re-reading it. I read it for a class in college. I remembered not particularly caring for it.

But, again, re-reading sometimes proves enlightening. I actually liked The Stranger much better this time around. However, the main character is a bit unlikable. He is definitely not Rabbit Angstrom. But, he is completely apathetic about so many things. He just goes through life, acting on impulse but not really having any feeling behind his actions. His girlfriend proposes, he says sure, but not because he really loves her, more because she wants him to and he can’t see any reason why or why not. She asks if he would marry someone else right then if they asked, if she wasn’t around. He replies he probably would. This is just one of the examples of his apathy.

This character trait gets him in a lot of trouble. He ends up killing a man that had been threatening his “friend” (he doesn’t seem to have any true friends, he doesn’t care enough). He gets arrested. His apathy definitely works against him.

Eventually his apathy lifts. But it’s too late by then. The apathy leaves to just display a raging storm of anger.

I like though, how the novel explores how our reactions to things color people’s perceptions of us. Before the murder, his mother, who he placed in a home instead of caring for her at home, dies. While attending the funeral, he has no wish to view her body so keeps the coffin closed. He sits the night long vigil but does not cry. He smokes cigarettes and drinks lattes offered to him. He does not visit the grave site after the funeral but leaves directly. He goes and meets a woman the next day and ends up having sexual intercourse with her. All of these things are used against him in the court room. And it reminds me of how we tend to prosecute people just by how they behave. If a parent has a child go missing and they don’t seem to be “grieving” enough, we judge them to be at fault. If they “grieve” too much, we perceive it as an act and prosecute them again. We then massacre them in the court of public opinion.

This is a first person narration novel which I always enjoy. The narrator has certain ways of describing things that make you be right there on the street with him, in the courtroom with him, in the holding cell with him. And that is what I really liked this time around about the novel. It’s possible in college I was trying to read it while suffering from insomnia and a hangover at the same time.

This book is also not very long, so if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the classics, this one is a great one to help with that.

Have a great Memorial Day!!

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