Friday, September 30, 2016

What's Going On?

Initially, the book began with stating that the narrator's "Maman" had died. The first thing I was thinking was that the book would possibly be about that narrator's mourning process or reminiscing times with his mother. The second chapter, though, focuses on the narrator chilling in his apartment and it also establishes how he just hates Sundays. I suppose the main point of chapter two was the transition from the narrator's mother's funeral to getting ready for work the next day: "It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed" (24). And soon enough, mentions of Maman diminish as the we enter into the third chapter. Finally, we get to see other people in his life (should we consider them as his friends?). What is the purpose of the man and his dog or Raymond and his behavior? To me, it seems like Meursault just doesn't have much of a personality.

Dark Humor In The Stranger

"The woman kept on crying. It surprised me, because I didn't know who she was. I wished I didn't have to listen to her anymore (pg. 10).

This quote, shows not only how distant Monsieur Meursault was from his mother, but also how he isn't as emotionally involved in the situation as others. I think that this shows the dark humor in the story because the narrator doesn't want to see his mother, and is more worried about his boss being mad at him for missing work than he is about his mother being dead. It is almost as if he sees his mother dying as an inconvenience rather than a tragedy. This isn't directly funny, but it has a sense of dark humor that is exemplified by the narrator constantly making light of the situation.

The Maman Burden

"I was tired. The caretaker took me to his room and I was able to clean up a little. I had some more coffee and milk, which was very good. When I went outside, the sun was up. Above the hills that separate Marengo from the sea, the sky was streaked with red. And the wind coming over the hills brought the smell of salt with it. It was going to be a beautiful day. It had been a long time since I'd been out in the country, and I could feel how much I'd enjoy going for a walk if it hadn't been for Maman." Pg 12

This paragraph exemplifies the way that Monsieur Meursault feels about his mother. At the very end of this paragraph he says "I could feel how much I'd enjoy going for a walk if it hadn't been for Maman," which depicts how he feels that even though he deposited her in the old person's home, she still is affecting him. And now, despite the fact that Maman is dead, he still feels as if (while he is visiting the home for her funeral) she is weighing on his shoulders. Later in the chapter, he is relieved to go back to his home. This shows that he really didn't want to deal with his mother and didn't really care for her because he thinks she is a burden.

Let's Use the Entire Apartment, Shall We?

"After lunch I was a little bored and I wandered around the apartment. It was just the right size when Maman was here. Now it's too big for me, and I've had to move the dining room table into my bedroom. I live in just one room now, with some saggy straw chairs, a wardrobe whose mirror has gone yellow, a dressing table, and a brass bed. I've let the rest go." - Albert Camus' The Stranger, page 21

Camus lives up to the strangeness of his title by inserting the antithesis of materialism. Although the novel was originally published in 1942 France, I think there would still be materialistic values in society, right? World War II was blowing full force across Europe, and Camus is seated in a cushioned chair, writing of his protagonist's self-sacrifice (at least that's how I envision him).

Perhaps I have completely misinterpreted the quote. Maybe Meursault is truly grieving over the untimely loss of his mother, but I personally find that hard to believe, as he hadn't visited her, nor could he recall the actual day his mother died.

If I could visit Meursault myself I would scorn him for wasting such a lovely French apartment! Yes, houses can be too large for comfort, but there's no need to squash furniture into the four walls of a room when there's an entire apartment to inhabit.

I assume I owe a massive apology to Nabakov for bringing my personal vision of materialism and the correct use of furniture and applying it to Camus' "new world" which I have just begun to learn of in the first 30 pages of the book. But Meursault seems to be wasting away his life and worldly possessions. Who hurt this man? I don't believe that he's ethereal enough to reject all material temptation, yet he seems to be moping around in a cramped apartment that shouldn't be. His only solace comes from a liquor bottle or the fingers of a cigarette. Perhaps that is why his mirror has gone yellow. Smoke is no good for material possessions, but they must not have known that in 1942 France.

sa mere est morte

Meursault seems to be very disconnected from everything that is happening in his life. The novel starts with his mom dying, but he seems completely unaffected by it. Later on, he meets a girl and takes her home, but thinks nothing of it the next morning. Many major events are happening in his life, but he never has a large reaction to it, and will continue his life as though nothing had changed. This severe disconnect struck me as detrimental to Meursault, as he can't explain himself to anyone without the emotion behind the event. While it could be that Meursault is going through depression, it seems impossible as he is still motivated to do things such as work and talk to his neighbors and friends. With the small amount of emotion coming off, it appears as though Meursault doesn't care about his mother or anything that might happen to him.

Stranger Things:

When we had dressed, she stared at my black tie and asked if I was in mourning. I explained that my mother had died. “When?” she asked, and I said, “Yesterday.” She made no remark, though I thought she shrank away a little. I was just going to explain to her that it wasn’t my fault, but I checked myself, as I remembered having said the same thing to my employer, and realizing then it sounded rather foolish (p. 20).

These lines struck me as being particularly strange. Both during and after his mother's funeral seems to be unfazed. At the same time, parts I II and III do not convey to us that has a poor relationship with his mother or that he did not love his mother. He seems to be distracted.

Who's the dog?

"...I asked him what the dog had done. He didn't answer. All he said was 'Filthy, stinking bastard!' I could barely see him leaning over his dog, trying to fix something on its collar. I spoke louder. Then, without turning around, he answered with a kind of suppressed rage, 'He's always there'" (Camus, page 28).

As soon as the funeral is over, essentially nothing happens in the first three chapters of "The Stranger." And yet, a whirlwind of odd details and seemingly unimportant, yet puzzling, interactions piece together to form an intriguing illustration.

Possibly the strangest aspect of Camus' snapshot of Meursault's Sunday is the interaction between Salamano and his dog. After Salamano senselessly beats his pet multiple times, Meursault confronts him about it. Salamano's reaction ("'He's always there'") seems contradictory, leaving the reader to wonder about the significance of Salamano's need for dominance. Going forward, will this owner/pet relationship parallel something larger? If so, what is Salamano? And who is his dog?

Stranger Things

The main character in The Stranger by Albert Camus seems robotic and machine-like. He seems to be devoid of any type of emotions, hardly batting an eyelash when his "Maman" dies at the beginning of the novel.

He walks through the the burial day for his mother in a trance-like state, not remembering much except vivid snapshots of individual's tear-stained faces, as well as the extreme heat of the day, portraying how selfish he is. He cannot seem to get over his discomfort, fearing that he might either faint or catch a chill. Although he is bland narrator, he does describe the day in artistic details, focusing on the things he views, instead of what he is internally feeling. He even describes "blood-red earth spilling over Maman's casket, the white flesh of the roots mixed in with it...," which creates an image that the reader can insert themselves into, being drawn into the story.

The oddest occurrence ends the second chapter. After what would be coined an overwhelming day for most, Meursault is only thinking of his bed, and the blissful twelve hours of sleep that awaits him.