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Camus' The Outsider

Joseph Campbell has noted that modern literature generally deals with the tragedy of life. Since the early twentieth century, writers have emphasized the idea that there is no God or future bliss to counteract the despair of existence. By contrast, the happy endings in fairy tales and myths provide "a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man." Although Campbell is correct that modern literature generally refuses to have happy endings, it nonetheless also tends to amplify the possibilities of a happy ending. In this way, it fulfills a deep psychic need in modern culture: to balance the "universal tragedy of man" with the "happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth and the divine comedy of the soul." Albert Camus' The Outsider is an excellent example of this.

The character Meursault in The Outsider refuses to accept the arbitrary rules of society. For example, he refuses to cry at his mother's funeral even though it is expected of him. Meursault is depicted as a person who is indifferent to such social conventions. In addition, he is depicted as a person who is unwilling to lie to others about his indifference. Thus, when his girlfriend Marie asks him if he loves her, he does not spare her feelings but replies bluntly "that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't" (Camus, 1983, p. 44). It is also revealed that Meursault does not believe in God or religion. For him, there is no meaning behind the things that happen in his life. As a result of his indifference, Meursault allows himself to become involved with an underworld character named Raymond. The turning point in Meursault's life occurs when he shoots and kills an Arab who has had an argument with Raymond. The shooting of the Arab is described as if Meursault is moving automatically. The emphasis in the scene is on the blinding heat of the sun and how it makes Meursault move helplessly toward his destiny despite his better judgment. After shooting the ...

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Camus' The Outsider. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:20, May 24, 2020, from