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Albert Camus

In his novel The Stranger, Albert Camus examines the absurd nature of human existence. The novel's protagonist Meursault is Camus' "stranger," as he is perceived as an outsider or social misfit by the society in which he lives. But many readers and critics believe that Meursault is a hero to be admired because, as Camus himself describes, "he does not play the game." Indeed, as Germaine Bree contends in her article "Heroes of Our Time: I. The Stranger," Meursault is often considered a martyr because he is punished for the fact that he refuses to conform to the social and moral norms that society imposes on him. Despite the consequences, he remains true to himself. There are some critics, however, who believe that Meursault is not quite the hero that readers hold him out to be. As Conor Cruise O'Brien discusses in his article "The Stranger," Meursault is not as committed to the truth as some commentaries describe him. In fact, he lies often in the course of the novel, only holding fast to the truth when it concerns his own emotions or opinions. Though Bree and O'Brien both present compelling arguments, it is difficult to ignore the persuasiveness of O'Brien's vision of Meursault: he is not a martyr for the truth, but instead a martyr for the integrity of his own feelings.

For Bree, Meursault is heroic in nature because he is "A man content to just live and who asks no questions" (112). He is found guilty after he kills the Arab, but in reality, Meursault is punished because he does not behave in a way that is deemed normal by society. When his mother dies, he does not cry nor does he wish to view her deceased body in the coffin. Those around Meursault judge this behavior to be a sign of indifference toward his mother, but Meursault himself believes that his feelings for his mother are just like anyone else's, as he states, "I probably did love Maman, but that didn't mean anything. At one time or another all nor...

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Albert Camus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:36, March 22, 2019, from