Free Study Guide: The Stranger by Albert Camus - Free BookNotes|
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THE STRANGER: FREE STUDY GUIDE / BOOK SUMMARY
Leaving the mortuary, Mersault goes out amongst some of the residents of the Home.
When he observes one woman crying, he learns that she is weeping over the death of his mother, who was her good friend. He also learns about Thomas Perez with whom his mother had developed a close emotional bond.
The next day, the funeral rites are performed according to his mother's
wishes. Although Mersault finds the heat unbearable, he manages to sit
calmly through the entire ritual; however, he experiences no sense of
loss and does not shed a tear. At the end of the day, he is ready to return
home, for he is hot and completely exhausted. In contrast to Mersault,
Perez is deeply affected by the funeral. His wrinkled face is covered
Albert Camus opens the narrative dramatically, with the death of the protagonist Ďs mother. Her death will play a major role in the unfolding of the plot of the novel. Mersault had sent his mother to live at a home for the aged three years ago. Since the home is located in Marengo, fifty miles away, Mersault did not see his mother on a regular basis, and there did not seem to be a close relationship between them. In fact, he opens the novel by showing his lack of concern about her: "Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I canít be sure."
Mersaultís reaction to his motherís death reveals much about him. He does not seem disturbed by the news that she has passed away. Mechanically, without emotion, he eats lunch and makes arrangements to take two days off work, to ride the bus to Marengo, and to borrow a tie and mourning band from his friend. When he arrives at the Home for the Aged, Mersault asks to see his mother; but when the attendant goes to open the lid of the coffin, he changes his mind. He will not allow the man to open the coffin to reveal his motherís body. At the funeral the next day, Mersault seems more upset over the heat than he is over the death of his mother.
Even though the reader, and later the jury, condemns Mersault for his indifference to his motherís death, there is a certain honesty in his reaction. Mersault admits that he and his mother had grown apart and had little to say to one another. As a result, he does not feel greatly grieved when she dies. Unlike many people would do, he refuses to put on a show of emotion or manufacture tears at the funeral in order to impress others or act in the conventional manner. In his indifference, Mersault proves that he does not live a life of illusion and is true to himself.
The relationship between Mersaultís mother and the old man Perez is important,
for it bears an interesting consequence later in the story. Towards the
last chapter of the book, Mersault understands the motive underlying his
motherís wish to take a fiancé even though she was old and death
was approaching. Since Mersault does not believe in an afterlife, it is
important to live life to the fullest to the very end.
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. 09 May 2017