This blog post tells my reflections on reading Camus' novel The Stranger. I reference the content of the novel and it is unlikely to make sense to you if haven’t read the novel yourself. For a tl;dr of the novel, I would recommend reading the Wikipedia entry.

I’ve never read a novel like this before. There is only a series of events, narrated with a hint of indifference. The murder of a man, Mersault’s separation from his fiance, his death sentence, and of course the death of his mother. None of these incidents were profound enough to throw the man into some odd kind of reflections on his life. He never regretted any of his actions, and as he proved to the chaplain towards the end, he didn’t change his religious beliefs despite much attempt.

It was as if his every action was actually an inaction. No action was his own “wish”. He didnt wish to kill the Arab, but it was the weather and the Arab’s knife that made him pull the trigger. He didn’t wish to write the letter to Raymond’s girlfriend. That too, like Marie’s marriage proposal, he just agreed to without express enthusiasm. Yet at the end it was these “actions”, and his indifference for which the jury imagined motives (for the common people are obsessed with meaning and causation) and eventually condemned him to death.

On the other hand, it is just absurd that the kind of arguments made to put Mersault to death were not a crime on their own – not wanting to see her mother before burial, not paying respects, having coffee with milk, smoking a cigarette. In fact, someone who even feigned interest in these activities would’ve gotten a reduced sentence. Moreover, contrary to the jury’s opinion, he did in fact quote his mother several times and indeed loved her. Rather than being honest, one is supposed to play the game and should pay the price otherwise if they don’t.