The Virtues Of Meursault In The Stranger

Meursault, Albert Camus’s main character, has an interesting relationship with his environment. Meursault is naturally curious and wonders what the purpose and reality of situations are. He often wonders if an interaction is “natural.” While the meaning of this phrase is unclear, we can deduce that he’s trying to determine whether the daily interactions are meaningful and valuable. Meursault’s skepticism is a reflection of his non-religious background. Meursault has a unique life outlook and a unique routine. We should not condemn his violent mentality and judge him because he is different. Instead, we should take lessons from him.

Meursault is a normal person for most of the early part of the tale. Meursault, though, is more reserved. He does not seem to be affected by his mother’s death, as she had been living in a retirement facility for some time prior to her death. Meursault, however, is apathetic. Meursault appears to see his mother’s death as more of an obligation rather than a celebration. Meursault is constantly annoyed at the funeral attendees who make loud noises. But he also gets frustrated when it is quiet. Meursault is astonished when a nurse suggests that Meursault walk quickly to the church in order to sweat from the exertion. Or he can walk slowly to avoid sweating because of midday’s heat. Meursault accepts sweating as a given, following the theme of his questioning if our existence is important. He does not try to change a situation that he cannot control. He does not consider the heat or long walk to be necessary for honoring the life of his mom. He prefers to live his life as usual at home, rather than go out of the way to honor his mother.

Meursault lives a simple life. He works a normal day job and spends the rest of his time relaxing at home with Marie, his best friend. This is a man who values routine over anything else. His attitude may be difficult to comprehend, but it deserves respect. Meursault lives in a comfortable zone. He doesn’t like to venture far from it. Others do not understand his behavior. Meursault is described as a cold person by multiple witnesses in court. Camus (94) notes, unaware of Meursault’s unusual mindset, that “the day following his mother’s passing, [Meursault] went swimming, started a dubious relationship, and went to the movies.” The prosecutor, unaware of Meursault’s unique mindset, notes that “the day after his mother’s death, [Meursault] was out swimming, starting up a dubious liaison, and going to the movies” (Camus 94).

Most people are confused by Meursault’s behavior. We’re not used to seeing someone who is so unwilling to break from the routine. Despite what others think, Meursault’s behavior isn’t harmful. Meursault is an atheist. This was a social taboo in the middle of the 20th century. Meursault was first confronted by the magistrate in charge of his case. As if to purify him and declare his lack or religion, the magistrate waved a cross directly at Meursault. Meursault is less likely to be exonerated of the charges against him after this interaction, despite the fact that the judge appears to be impartial throughout the rest of the trial. Meursault is remarkably calm, even as the judge attacks in a very aggressive way. Meursault does not attempt to defend himself or his views. Instead, he tries to keep himself out of unnecessary conflict. Meursault, as he’s done in the past, questions whether this situation was natural. He also notes that subsequent interactions seemed natural and went very well. He tries to explain the judge’s reaction as the natural result of the remarks he made. As if the judge was bound to be angry with him due to his religious passion. The story will turn on this questioning of inevitable events, as Meursault is executed.

Meursault does not want to waste away his time in prison. Instead, he spends it reading and gazing up at the skies. He also tries improving his memory. He would mentally circle his room in his imagination starting from one corner. Meursault creates a routine by simply changing the way he does things. He sleeps and walks in his cell for eighteen-hours a day. Meursault makes his prison stay as pleasant as possible, just like when he was in jail after the funeral of his mom. Since he must deal with some sort of situation, he tries to minimize the disruption to his daily life. While he may not be credited, it is clear that he behaves like a model of an inmate. He is a model inmate.

Meursault’s routine includes reading a newspaper clipping that tells an ironic Czechoslovakian story. As he slept in their hotel, a man was killed by his sister and mother who were trying to steal his money. They didn’t recognize him as their son or brother because he lived away for many years. Meursault was puzzled by the story and found it ironic. He has done it before with judges and other authorities. The family’s decision to kill the man was not predetermined. If the man had notified them of his presence before he stayed there to try to surprise then, this situation could have completely been avoided. Meursault’s interest in the incident is important because he is curious to find out if it was really necessary and if it could have been prevented.

Meursault is not impressed by his first encounter with Marie. All he wants to do is talk to her. He has to shout to be heard over the other inmates talking to their loved ones. The end result is that he seems to be happy to have seen her, particularly since his life will be at stake during his trial. Meursault appears to be uninterested in the case during the trial. Meursault is not concerned about the press attention his case receives. Meursault questions “naturalness” and the inevitable outcome of his life after being found guilty. Meursault is now more human than a robot. He seems less fearless, and less prone to routine. He realizes that he is dying and that his execution is inevitable. He wants to run away and asks, “What if, by some strange chance, I had been executed with a blade that failed?” (Camus 111). He accepts what he is going to get, stating that everyone has to die eventually, whether it’s now or in twenty years.

Meursault’s life is given meaning by his abnormal behavior and odd disregard for what most people value. Meursault is defined by his abnormal behavior and peculiar disregard for the values of most people. As he’s different from the rest, he’s perfectly content to live in peace. Meursault may have felt like an outsider, which is why he became so convicted. His behavior is viewed as abnormal by us. Meursault’s behavior may be abnormal, but the way he analyses reality isn’t dangerous. Although he may be a social outcast, the philosophy that he represents is not dangerous to those who live in it. Meursault is not a criminal because of his uniqueness.


Original: In conclusion,

Paraphrased: To sum up

Matthew Ward, Albert Camus and Camus. The Outsider. Random House, New York, 1988. Print.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.