Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Listen and You'll Understand

Literature magically allows us to experience a new world and evinces an array of emotions, however, only when we are able to truly visualize one’s circumstances and reality can we truly empathize with others. When reading novels, poems, essays, songs, etc, about heavy topics such as sexual assault, war, poverty, or murder, there are times when I struggle to fully piece together the entire picture. Every adjective, pronoun, and verb used to convey the heaviness of each story is sometimes enough to experience the truly heavy punch to the face when read repeatedly. However, for the majority of the time, it isn’t enough. For me, literature is limited in its ability to convey a story and transport one to another world when it comes to our reality. What’s truly powerful and transporting is our auditory perception. Being able to hear every word spoken by the narrator with their unique accent, frequency, emotion, and volume. Listening to the noises of the environment that gives hints to one’s location, situation, and actions.

Through auditory perception, it allows for a deeper connection with another person on the opposite side of the globe through the emotion the listener experiences, sometimes simultaneously, with the storyteller. The ability to have a VR experience, to listen and see what the narrator saw, truly enhances one’s understanding of the story and our world’s reality. In the video “Clouds Over Sidra”, we meet a young girl named Sidra who is twelve years old and native to the country Syria. Within 8 minutes and 35 seconds, I was able to experience, learn, and relate much more to Sidra than I could’ve reading a paragraph on a white page. The babies crying, the father’s voice, the young students’ cacophony, the gravel scraping across the ground, the screams, the breeze. All of it transported me to her world and made her life more tangible to me, the person all the way on the other side of the world watching, listening, and experience her story and reality.

Animalism in Exit West

" these trees now were dark bodies too, children who climbed and played among the boughs, like little monkeys, not because to be dark is to be monkey-like, though that has been and was being and will long be slurred, but because people are monkeys who have forgotten that they are monkeys, and so have lost respect for what they are born of, for the natural world around them..."

Throughout Exit West animal analogies are prevalent. From comparing Saeed and Nadia's love to a fox or migrants to hunted animals, Mohsin Hamid relies on a comparison between humans and animals. On the one hand, comparisons to animals dehumanize characters perhaps reflecting the way in which they are received by natives after arriving through the doors. However, often Hamid uses animals in order to demonstrate a greater depth of the human experience.

This seemingly contradictory function of animal analogies in fact provides the key to a theme of the story. Rather than dehumanizing people like the traditional usage, it instead provides readers a greater understanding of the characters as human beings. In the response of the natives to the migrants is the lack of recognition of them as human beings in need of help but rather an unwelcome threat. This fundamental lack of compassion in the response of natives to migrants must be solved through a recognition of humanity. For example, as Saeed and the preacher's daughter grow closer, or Nadia and the cook, we can see the power of developing relationships and recognition. In the same way by turning the purpose of animal analogies on its head, Hamid supplies readers with an element of human connection otherwise missing from the story.

A Virtual Escape To Lebanon

I'm a huge fan of virtual reality, and putting myself into the shoes of someone else. Whether it's virtual reality race car driving, or looking through the eyes of a Syrian refugee, I'm always fascinated with the point of view. When delving into The Displaced (, a virtual reality video following three children refugees, I was really shocked. Unlike the virtual reality car racing, the visuals and topics that the viewer sees are not fun or entertaining. The children who are forced to flee their country live such a drastically different life than anyone I know. They are forced to be extremely independent in order to survive, and they are doing things I could never do. What shocked me most is when Hana, a girl from Syria, told us about her experience living in Lebanon. She escaped to Lebanon when she was only nine, and now lives in a poor settlement. She talks about how the Lebanese don’t like the refugees and how they aren’t good to them. I know seeking asylum isn’t easy, and a lot of people will try to get in the way, but I would think locals would be understanding of those who need safety and are just fighting for their life. Hana also makes Syria sound like heaven before they were forced to leave. She talks about all the toys she had, and all the things she had with her. She seemed to love her life in Syria, which sounds strange to me because life in Syria seems so bad compared to somewhere like America.

Syria is always portrayed poorly in the news, and it is a very scary place, but it doesn’t mean children can’t have fun or be happy. Locals who live in poor communities still make the best of it, and find ways to have a good life, which is something I find interesting. Hana’s story about moving to Lebanon and her escape from Syria was extremely fascinating, and a lot of what she had to say about Syria surprised me. Although I didn't actually experience what Hana went through, or even see most of it through the virtual reality, I do believe I have a better understanding of her struggle, and the video was very eye opening to me.

A Cause for Reflection

The biggest wow moment for me when watching the Syrian refugee video was when the family in focus was eating breakfast together and talking about how people around the world don’t realize how fortunate they are to have electricity and water on a daily basis. The mother goes on to explain the resources that the western world takes for granted, which can be directly applied to my life in America. As she talks about this, her family is sitting cross-legged on the floor (there’s barely any furniture in the room), eating small amounts of food.

To see her two, young children in acceptance of their situation and not complaining makes me rethink how I need to view my life. I have the opportunities to take long showers, to have a comfortable bed to sleep in, to have heating and cooling systems, to drink when I’m thirsty, to contemplate what I want to wear, to sleep in on weekends. Almost all of these listed items aren't basic human needs, which they struggle with everyday. After watching this video, I feel the need to be more conscious of how I interact with the people and things around me and be more appreciative of what I have. Although I’ve felt this need for self-reflection in the past, I’ve always failed to maintain this mind-set because I get wrapped up in my own life and “problems”.

I have found that simply watching this 9-minute video was more impactful than reading about Saeed and Nadia’s life. There is no replacement for seeing and hearing about the devastation that plagues so many of the Earth’s population. That is not to say that I can understand in anyway how migrants feel or live. But, I feel that the 360 experience leaves a larger imprint than Exit West. Literature leaves too much to the imagination, and it doesn’t pull on our ability to sympathize as much. Although Hamid crafts an enthralling narrative, I cannot visualize the war zones or refugee camps or begin to imagine leaving behind a family member simply because I have not been exposed to that extreme desperation and poverty.

Stepping through the doors of VR

I believe that this VR experience is a perfect example of a way technology helps us. We get to see what it’s truly like for these people and children every day. I was shocked to hear that a 12-year-old girl wakes up at 4 every morning and goes to a job and picks cucumbers. This girl should be going to school and making friends and having fun, she shouldn’t be out in a hot field picking cucumbers. It just really shows how being a refugee disrupts everyday life. They know they have to survive and try to live a normal life but don’t know where to start. The VR experience was an interesting way to show people what it’s really like to be a refugee. I got to see what they see and hear what happened to them which really makes you feel sympathy for them. I did find the headset quite annoying, the picture was kinda blurry which made the words hard to read, and gave me quite the headache. However, despite that, I found the whole experience a great way to show people the lives of these refugees. You honestly get to see how these wars and conflicts have taken a toll on the innocent civilians. People need to keep in mind that the people who live in these war-torn countries are victims, that they need help.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

VR Isn't Empathy

Virtual reality is exciting. It entices us to new experiences, and it symbolizes the revolution of technology in our modern world. For some, though, it can be literally and figuratively dizzying. Especially when paired with a topic as heavy as the migrant plight, I am hesitant to suggest VR to someone who is looking to better his/her understanding of the topic.

It was not my first time using virtual reality headsets when I strapped one onto my head in my English class a few days ago. It most likely would not be the last time, either. As my eyes adjusted to the somewhat blurry picture, I saw the title of the video: The Displaced. As I had been given background on what I was going to watch, I thought the title was clever and poignant. It had captured my attention, and the allure of VR had worked its magic and made me excited to continue watching. Here, I caution the audience to recognize that "excitement" is not the emotion they may expect someone to feel before watching a video about the not-so-pretty tales of migrant children. But nonetheless, there I was.

As I continued watching, I could not find myself to focus so much on the children's stories as I could the heavy box weighing on my cheeks and the captions that required me to physically turn my body to read. Sure, I absorbed the story, and I understand that this blog should be centered around that. However, I find myself challenged to do so when the VR experience was so much on its own that I could not fully articulate a deeper understanding of the refugees' situations. And however I may wish to sympathize -- for I do not feel capable of empathizing, as I do not know their experiences for myself -- I think that in what was supposed to be the most real and raw way to see their lives, I found myself distracted and annoyed with the device I was using.

So what I must say of my takeaways, from the parts I was able to focus on, is that the children in the video are our near-polar opposites. We attempt to feel what they feel through a video on our phones, and a piece of technology only available to the most advanced. They, on the other hand, are perhaps some of the most non-materialistic humans I have ever seen. Among the rubble of what was once their homes and neighborhoods, the video ended on clips of the kids explaining how they find fulfillment and happiness in each other's presence, without a piece of tech in site. I think we have a lot to learn from them.

Never a True Recognition of the Other

I do not think we can ever truly recognize or understand Others because unless we literally stand in their shoes, we can not know what they are going through. And we can not understand what someone is going through even more if their life is radically different than ours because we cannot even begin to comprehend those things that are everyday occurrences for them. Something that may be typical to their life could be so different from our lives that it is incomprehensible to us. In order to truly recognize oppression, we have to acknowledge our own privilege and view those who do not have this same privilege as us with empathy, or the goal to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, not just showing compassion or pity for another person. Also,  I believe because it is an attempt to put yourself in another person’s shoes, that means that you will never truly be in their shoes, and that you can never truly recognize their lives and the oppression they experience.

Virtual vs. Actual Reality

Virtual reality is an incredible to experience the environment of people others than yourself and also to get a little queasy while doing so. Being fully immersed into the lives of migrants is a powerful experience that makes you think about how the world is happening concurrently with itself, with an almost infinite amount of activity occurring at once. Although my stomach couldn’t handle the headset, I fortunately could have an opportunity of getting a peek into the lives of others from my time in Asia. Traveling to places like Cambodia or Vietnam was really eye opening for me. I got to have a brief glimpse into the lives of locals who were living in incredibly different and difficult circumstances. My virtual reality headset was the small boat I was on allowing me to peek into the lives of those living on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Seeing the daily lives with those living there and having personal interactions with them allowed with me to empathize better with their experience and with others who I had never met before. This is because once you can empathize with some others who you didn’t know before, it is easier to see your common humanity and accept people who you have never interacted with. Traveling that part of the world showed me how similar all of our lives are. Despite the vastly different circumstances of our lives, I could see the similarities between us. There are people who we don’t know who are just like the people that we do. So for those who’s stomach can’t handle VR but can handle the steep price of plane tickets, I highly recommend getting out into the world and experiencing as much of it as you can.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Children Losing Their Childhoods

Towards the end of the video, the film cut to the three kids right in a row and they gave little overviews of their lives. The girl, Hana, said she wanted the war to end so she “could go back to being a little girl again.” That was the biggest wow moment because it really hits you how these kids lose their childhoods. Obviously there are physical losses of family or homes, but psychologically, they have to worry about things that a child should never have to consider. They have to fear for their lives at such a young age, which sounds insane that a child as young as 9, in the case of Chuol, has to experience their father being burned alive. He also says he thinks being eaten by a crocodile would be better than dying in the fighting, which is incredibly sad because no child anywhere should have to be quite literally considering different ways to die.

The only child who was able to go home was the child from Ukraine, who lost his grandfather, but also had to witness coming home to his completely demolished village. The emotional weight of the destruction of everything that he knew and was familiar must have been crushing for such a young boy. The loss of physical things seems so trivial in comparison to the loss of lives, but for kids like the ones in this video, the loss of a place or item that previously provided comfort and a feeling of safety could be devastating to young kids.

Focusing on the experience of these kids really puts into perspective how, on top of every other terrible thing happening in their homes that caused them to leave, they can never experience a childhood in the way that so many of us elsewhere in the world get to. It really hits you how privileged we are to simply feel safe waking up in the morning and not fearing for our lives the way some children in other places in the world have to.

The Power of Allies

The Displaced is artful in its call to action. Rather than explicitly harping on the overwhelming sorrow and tragedy of the migrant situation, it tells simply story. We see a boy, Oleg, standing in the ruins of a building, perhaps his home. The Displaced does not show us his complaints. Instead, it lets us feel his existence when we hear his story, his mundane truth, as he stands somberly in a dilapidated city.

Through the plain act of immersion, The Displaced allows viewers to understand more authentically the plight of migrants. This method of exposition raises a question: are those of privilege (i.e. non-migrants) ever able to truly understand the migrant struggle? In general, can we as human beings ever achieve true empathy with another?

My answer is no. I believe that we cannot ever truly understand the struggles of another, although we can sympathize with them. Without having the experience of another, we can only imagine- and imagination has limits. Solipsistically, I don’t think we can ever truly understand someone no matter how close we are to them. However, this is not necessarily a cause for despair.

Herein lies the power of allies: the sympathy of those who cannot understand is more powerful than that of those can. When we cannot understand a struggle, it makes our help more powerful. It shows that we recognize the humanity of those stuck in tough situations, even though we cannot fully feel the situation. The fact that true empathy is impossible does not diminish the Ally. It in fact affirms it, because the effort required to muster sympathy is greater than it would be for one who possesses that true empathy (someone who has gone through the same experience). In this way, The Displaced cannot generate true empathy but can produce allies: a different, but equally valuable aid.

What does it take to be Remorseful?

Throughout this unit, The Stranger, Trust, and Exit West all had one thing in common: lack of emotion for the death of a family member. In The Stranger, one of the main event that the reader may recall was when Meursault didn't show emotion when notified about his mother's death. This argument was also used during the court case, and even Meursault realized that he was lacking remorse when he stated, "I didn't feel much remorse for what I'd done" (100). Meursault's apathetic reaction over his mother's death may have contributed to his execution in the end.

Similarly to what happened in The Stranger, the movie Trust also represent a similar scenario where the main character, Maria, did not show much emotion after her father died. Although it is obvious that Maria felt bad about what she had done, there was no evidence of her feeling sad about what she had happened. She did not cry nor felt depressed after what had happened, rather she was very apologetic to her family about it.

Finally, Exit West also dealt with a similar event. Although brief, the novel stated that Nadia did not attend her cousin's funeral. Although it was stated that she did not attend "not for lack of emotion", it said that it was "to avoid being the cause of unpleasantness". Nadia did not tell the reader about how she felt during the process, making the reader wonder how Nadia really felt when she experienced the death of her family member as well as isolation from the family.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Matthew Slaughter, Can He Fix It? Matthew Slaughter...No, He Can't.

Out of all the ideas presented in Trust, I found the quandary surrounding self-improvement to be the most intriguing. Specifically, when does the re-definition of the self go too far; when do the ends - becoming a healthier individual, physically, emotionally, mentally - no longer justify the means - becoming someone who isn't a true representation of yourself? Both Matthew and Maria undergo significant changes in character, only some of which they themselves initiated and are conscious of. However, the process of self-betterment only pays dividends for Maria, whereas Matthew is ashamed of who he became by the end of the film. But how can self-improvement, a laudable goal, ultimately ruin lives instead of saving them?

First, let's look at Maria's character arc. In the beginning of the film, she is pregnant, but Anthony, her boyfriend,wants nothing to do with her. She is exiled from her own home by her mother. Oh, and she feels guilty for her father's death. After reaching the end of her rope, Maria decides that she is capable of something better and willing to put in the work to salvage herself. Maria makes peace, or at least a ceasefire, with her mother and moves back into her house. She resists Anthony when he tries to win her back, and starts working a stable, albeit monotonous job. Most notably, Maria regains an interest in her education, taking time to learn new words and considering a return to High School.

Now for Matthew. Initially, Matthew is unmotivated at his job repairing electronics, much to the frustration of his supervisors, and is promptly fired from his post. He suffers at home, subject to the verbal and physical abuse of his father. His most prized possession is a hand grenade, indicative of the instability and turmoil running rampant inside of him. Like Maria, Matthew takes steps towards a better life. He meets Maria and begins to nurture a healthy relationship, moves out of an abusive household, and starts searching for employment.

So why, then, is there no salvation for Matthew? I think the answer lies in each character's initial attitude towards change and progress. Matthew ultimately reverts to his previous impulsive and destructive tendencies because he wasn't necessarily unhappy with who he was to begin with. In an early scene, Matthew rebukes the concept of improvement, saying "some things shouldn't be fixed" when he is asked about his apathy at work. He doesn't truly believe he needs to change, and yet, he tries to anyway in an attempt to seem more acceptable to Maria. Matthew suddenly buys into the goodness of family and importance of work, but he is woefully ill-equipped for this charade, and Maria sees through him right away.

Maria, who genuinely wants to fix herself, is never conflicted in her process, and has a strong sense of what will assist and what will hinder her in her quest for redemption. Eventually, Maria identifies Matthew as a hindrance, and distances herself from him. This separation is devastating for Matthew, who realizes that he wasn't being true to himself, and his return to his previous state is abrupt and destructive.

Props to anyone who got the Bob the Builder reference in the title.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Does Meursault really care about Marie?

While Meursault was in prison, he thought about Maire but not because he missed her but he missed the physical connection he had with her. He only really thought about her as an object not as a human being. Through out the entire book, we can see that Meurasult has no real feelings for anyone and he is more focused on himself. When Marie asked Meursault to marry her, he said sure. Not really thinking about how it would effect her, he was very blunt with her. In today's society men also treat woman like objects and have little respect for their feelings. For example when men catcall women it is harassment but the men who do it don't get punished for it. It is something that has been happening in the world for a very long time and in the book, it somewhat touches on that subject.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I Get The Point...But I Still Hate Meursault

In an age in which people have generally begun to feel comfortable dissecting the "holy grail" classics, The Stranger is not safe from criticism. Though the book has praised for a half-century as one of the most profound pieces of literature in human history it's far from flawless. While I can appreciate the core, radical message of the book, I still do not like the main character. It may be the point that us "sheeple" cannot accept the raw "truth" of Meursault's inner monologue but I still am angered by his actions. He treats women as objects, he's kinda racist, and overall is just generally a jerk. I do not take issue with unlikable characters when they are shown in a light which is not glorified.

Which leads me to the real problem I have with Meursault. Meursault is depicted as an absurd hero when he is really just someone who is so stubborn that they refuse to make comprises in their life. The 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that it is inherently immoral to lie and therefore we should never do it. This is also reflected in Meursault's personal philosophy. While this may work in theory it is detrimental in practice. We all must make comprises in our life (especially if we are not rich white men) but by glorifying a callous adherence to this moral code, it allows the disregard of other peoples feelings to be validated and praised. This selfish determination to be complete truth regardless of how it makes people feel is a concept which logically I can understand but can never respect.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Is Meursault really in charge?

In the book The Stranger, Meurasult shows he has no emotion towards other peoples feelings. Meursault is the type of man to react to a situation the opposite way you would think. When his mother died, he didn't cry at her funeral and when Marie asked him to marry her, he said "sure". Meursault didn't care what really happened because he is so focused on his own life and just goes with the flow of things. I think that the reason Meursault never really lets anyone into his life is because he always wants to feel in control and by letting his guard down and his emotions out, he doesn't feel in control and that control keeps him going. Meursault believes that life is meaningless or I think he would have stood up for himself more when he was in court.

Am I a Stranger?

In the novel, The Stranger the antagonist, Meursault, is referred to as “the” stranger. Meursault is considered a stranger to society. The author, Albert Camus, does not give Meursault the persona of regular and reasonable man. Meursault is a emotionless, nonchalant, and insensitive being who does not have any goals are ambition. Are these characteristics what make Meursault a stranger?

Even though I do not possess the same characteristics as Meursault, I sometimes feel that I am a stranger to society. I sometimes feel left out and  ignorant about subjects that most people understand. I have been an introvert most of life and I have come to accept that. Most of friends know I am an introvert and they accepted it as well. Being to yourself does not make you a stranger.

Is Change Good or Bad

“People never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another and that I wasn’t I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all.”

This was Meursault’s response when his boss offered him a change life.

I do agree with this statement made by Meursault. I believe that people would like a change in life, if their current life does not meet their satisfaction. But, some people would are comfortable with their current and they are not looking for a change.

Some people are afraid of change and like to stay comfortable where they are currently at. That is normal in people, but if one always fears change they won’t see the benefits of change.

My mother always tells me, “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” She is always trying to get me to step out my comfort zone and try new things. Personally, I do not have big comfort zone and I often question trying something I’m not accustomed to doing. However, when I do step out my comfort zone, I come across things that I end up liking and that interest me, that before I thought I would never end up doing.

A change of life is not bad, if it is a change for the better.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Existentialism- Meaning of Life

The argument of existentialism that we have talked about in class and that Camus touches on in the myth he tells is very complex. The argument of love, justice, e.t.c being social structures that have just been around since the beginning of human life is very intriguing.

At first, it seemed very odd because all of these things are what we live our lives by. I do agree with the argument that they are just social structures because it is a fact that we are not born with any of those things, we are trained by society that that is what is important. Furthermore, I would not say that I agree completely with the existentialism beliefs because for me, the meaning of life is about feelings good and enjoying life anyway you want too. If you really wanna find love, if you wanna cure diseases, or make a ton of money, whatever makes you feel happy and good inside is what one should do. That is what the meaning of life is for me and that is the flaw in existentialism that I cannot agree with.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Justice for Meursault

If you're in the same boat as me you probably thought that meursault getting the death penalty was a bit extreme. Surely there was some other form of punishment to fit his crime? Initially that is what I thought, but after further thought I have realized that nothing but the death penalty, or life in prison, could suit meursault's crime. It is not because it he killed a man. Plenty of the people do that. It is that there is no possible way he could be reconditioned or reformed to go back into society and not be a hazard to people around him.

If the purpose of prison is to punish and reform then only half of that could apply to meursault. It is easy to punish someone for a crime. Once you figure out the correct course of action a fitting punishment can be applied. However, if your intention is to reform the criminal and return him to society a changed man then the punishment may change. There's the possibility of parole or reduced sentencing.

This would not work for meursault because he exists outside of the expectations of society. He could be punished and returned to society only to then be set back to square one. There would be no reforming him because his crime wasn't caused by something that can be reformed. To the court in Algiers he is so disconnected from "normal" living that the best course of action is to remove him from society. In this case they do so by executing him. For them it might have been a tough decision. To meursault it didn't matter, so why return him to society?

Is existentialism for anyone?

After reading the stranger and discussions in class I have a better understanding of existentialism. My question is who would ever want to live such a life. I pity the fool who believes that everything that we were lead to believe is important isn't. What is the problem with living in a bunch of lies anyway? If marriage, money, etc is just a social construct then so be it. I am completely alright with living that life and I am confident that I will live a more fulfilling life than the existentialist who does not care for these "lies".  What is there to live for with this mindset? Life would be bland. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Is Mersault Misunderstood? Or Is He Just.... a Jerk?

In reading The Stranger through a feminist lens, it becomes extremely apparent that the man who Camus is attempting to establish as the "protagonist" of his story is well, kind of a jerk. Mersault proves time and time again his lack of respect for not only the women in his life, like Marie or Maman, but women as a whole. Mersault views himself as both the hero and the victim, and has somewhat of a "crybaby" attitude. While in prison, he places himself on a higher pedestal, not understanding immediately why he should not be allowed all of the privileges he once had as a free man. He also immediately puts himself at the level of the guards, rather than his fellow prisoners.

Additionally while in prison, Mersault  showcases a lack of respect for women, especially Marie. He is so self absorbed and misogynistic, he does not care what woman he is with, as long as she is pleasuring HIM- serving HIM. He says that "[he] thought so much about women, about all the ones I had known, about all the circumstances i which I had enjoyed them...". Mersault obviously only views women as something to gain pleasure from, rather than individual people with emotions and opinions. 
I don't know what Camus' goal was, but if it was for Mersault to be a character to be sympathetic to, he's failed in my book. 

The Treatment of Mental Illness by the Justice System

In The Stranger, it is almost impossible not to jump to the conclusion that Meursault has some type and degree of a mental illness. He struggles to voice his emotions, even internally. He appears to be indifferent to all aspects of his life and has a difficult time making decisions. He never demonstrates even a glimpse of love or affection for his friends, girlfriend, or even mother. Around the midway point of the novel, Meursault's mental illness resulted in him shooting and killing a man very rashly.

His trial was long and excruciating. Interestingly, the trial had little to do with his killing of the Arab man, but instead with the death and treatment of his mother. His lack of sadness at her funeral was seen as a sign that Meursault was evil. It was decided by the jury that his soul was so sinful that he must be put to death for the good of humanity. They came to this decision without any consideration for his mental instability. His inability to grieve the proper way at his mother's funeral resulted in his death. His awkwardness and indifference in relationships, both romantic and simple friendships, led the judge to send Meursault to the guillotine.

This treatment of mental illness by the justice system extends far beyond The Stranger. Pleading insanity has become a common occurance to lessen the punishment after committing heinous acts. However, none of the punishments contain any kind of aid to the mentally ill. Is it not ironic that only some people convicted of murder are considered 'insane'? Do you not have to be insane to pull the trigger to take a life? Mental illness has become a kind of hidden scapegoat within the courts. It is the first thing to be blamed, but the last thing to be treated.

Rick Sanchez: God of His Own Universe

Throughout class time reading The Stranger, we have discussed the many tendencies of an existentialist, and how they seem to learn that nothing matters, but once they do, their world becomes their own, for better or worse. I have seen many existentialist tendencies in comparison to our favorite TV genius, Rick Sanchez, the all-doing all-knowing scientist from the popular "Adult Swim" sci-fi cartoon, Rick and Morty. Rick and Morty is a show about a genius scientist named Rick, and his adventures throughout the universe with his family. However, the most intriguing characteristic I have seen from Rick in this show, is the fact that he refers to himself as "God" in many instances. It took me a while to sit with this statement, wondering how a scientist from Earth can own his own universe. While he can simply create whatever he wants and go wherever he wants, through all of his inventions, I still couldn't figure it out. But then it hit me. In an episode from the third season, Rick's daughter, Beth, killed her old friend in another dimension and asked Rick if she could make a clone of him, and Rick agreed (I believe because he just wanted something to do, as Beth did walk in while he looked bored playing a guitar). Later though, Beth asked Rick if she was evil, and Rick's response was, "Worse, you're smart. When you know nothing matters, the universe is yours". This sticks with me because it is exactly what we have been talking about in class. Rick knows that he is a genius and can do as he pleases, and he knows that nothing matters where he is, because he can just go to another universe and start over, without any problems, it seems that Rick runs his own course rather than letting someone, or a higher power run his course for him. I also think this is why Rick is a raging alcoholic, and seemed to show no empathy toward his family in the slightest. He truly lives in his own world, everyone and everything else is just a side piece to it. This proves Rick's existentialist thought process, he knows nothing matters, just like Meursault. Meursault doesn't care who he hurts or what he does, he knows that it won't matter in the long run, as does Rick. They both see the world as a pointless journey that leads to the same destination for everyone, which is why they do as the please, they are truly the owners of their own universe.

Religion and The Stanger

Religion is used as a guide for many people. It often is their code of ethics. It can bring out extreme positive and negative. Even though Mersualt does not believe in God religion still brings out strong emotions in him. When the pope tries to discuss religion with him, Mersualt becomes combative.

Religion is a touchy subject for many people. Mersualt is not different. Religion goes against his life philosophy.  In most religions, the point of life is to get to a certain place in the afterlife.  Mersualt does not believe life has meaning. 

Religion being shown in the book is not necessarily to discredit religion but it is to show how many people try to force what they believe on others.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Creation of Adam

Overall, I really appreciated the ending of how Meursault finally kind of "broke character" due to his hysterical reaction when the bishop talked to him about making amends with God. In the end, we finally saw some type of humanity in Meursault, which he lacked towards any other human figure, or animal in the book especially Marie- poor girl.

I think Meursault was very complacent with his situation: incarceration. Similar to Sisyphus in Greek mythology, he was eternally punished due to his hubris similar to Meursault, he own ego set him up to stuck in a very simple-minded situation that they can not escape.

I feel the idea God is really influential  to this because, for most people God is a "distraction" from everyday trials and tribulations, and if Meursault would have given up his own pride he would have fell into that belief system which in return would somewhat "cripple" him into being a "normal" person. I think he fears the most is fall into a societal construction. Meursault's lack of emotion towards anything is what gives him power over Marie and the other prisoners, because they only strive for freedom that they can indulge themselves in, they are forever trapped in a humanistic approach to life, " the pursuit of happiness", but Meursault kinda works on animal instinct, he is very complex but simply: a paradoxical character. He works strictly on passions and short infatuation which while he denies these as human traits when in actuality, these are our own primeval cravings that we deny because in today's society they viewed to be disturbing, unnatural, and forbidden.

Image result for the creation of adam

The Lack of Relationships in The Stranger

After reading The Stranger, I initially found the task difficult of identifying important themes throughout the book. One of the most obvious, however, is the theme of Meaninglessness and "The Absurd," a term coined by Albert Camus himself. One theme that did cross my mind though, was the theme of Relationships, and explicitly, how Meursault is unable to form them in his daily life.

Of course, readers are initially exposed to his lack of care and empathy when he hears about his mother's death and is rather annoyed by the time he must take out his day to visit her. In fact, all of the people he keeps in touch with are passionless from his mother to his friend Raymond, even his "romantic" relationship with Marie. Meursault is more focused, rather, on the physical experiences of his relationships. For example, this quote from Meursault is primarily based on the physical details of his "friends" rather than caring about what they have to say:

"That's when Maman's friends came in. There were about ten in all, and they floated into the blinding light without a sound. They sat down without a single chair creaking. I saw them more clearly than I had ever seen anyone, and not one detail of their faces or their clothes escaped me. But I couldn't hear them, and it was hard for me to believe they really existed"

Readers additionally begin to feel Meursault lack of conscience when he begins talking about his life with Marie. Marie is romantically involved with Meursault, and unlike Meursault, she focuses more on the emotional aspects of the daily events that occur in her life. For example, Marie is genuinely sad and discouraged when Mersault states that his life wouldn't matter one way or another if he married her. He states:

 "That evening, Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn't make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't love her. "So why marry me, then?" she said. I explained to her that it didn't really matter and that if she wanted to, we could get married. Besides, she was the one who was doing the asking and all I was saying was yes. Then she pointed out that marriage was a serious thing. I said, "No"...She just wanted to know if I would have accepted the same proposal from another woman, with whom I was involved in the same way. I said, "Sure."

His inappropriate answers prove that he simply doesn't feel that she is different or unique compared to other people he is in contact with and therefore is freely able to admit to her that he does not love her.

At the final end of the book, readers get a slight glimpse that Meursault has finally realized what it is like to have an emotional connection with someone else. He states "to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate".

Comedians are the Ultimate Existentialists

Existentialism is at the core of all the comedy I watch: stand-up routines, movies, improv sketches. Perhaps unknowingly, comedians are the ultimate existentialists. They point out the absurdity of life and meaningless of all occurrences.

Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., and Joan Rivers are a few of the stand-up comedians that come to mind. Woody Allen's movies and Donald Glover's TV show also contain elements of this so-called existentialism. So why do so many comedians channel this philosophy of thinking? 

Comedy is a coping mechanism. Humor comes from tragedy. People use comedy as a tool for coming to terms with the disorder of life. The same can be said of existentialism. 

The Holes in Existentialism

The philosophy of existentialism is going to take a lot of hits from the average person because it pretty much says all that they submit to is not real. The happiness they feel is not the golden happiness it could be if they found their own way. The god they praise is a construct. They passion they have is not true. The love they feel is a construct. All of the things around them have been made and that their happiness should not depend on anything but their acts and their will.

This frankly does not sit well with me.

To start, the society we live in is the society we live in. It has been in creation for thousands of years and is the product of all of the history our ancestors have written. They left us with things to strive for, wealth, family, happiness and love among other things. An existentialist would claim that these things don't mean anything because they were not created through our own will. But what I would say to that is so what.

All of the things that people strive for in this day and age give them happiness and life. They work to make money to buy necessities and what they want. They work to provide for their family. They work to give themselves a life they like to live. Who is to say that this is fake. That this is not the real way to live life. This society gives people to find things that they love and strive for them, giving people a purpose. Purpose is what it is all about. Without this you will be lost and not know where to go. Without purpose people loose sight of what is good for them and what they want to peruse.

Why would someone take this purpose away for someone and replace it with "you must find what you want by yourself without any influence." This leaves the average person without guidance on a road that is supposed to lead to happiness. However we live in a society that is able to and has given purpose to the lives of millions and millions of people without leaving them alone to find their own way of life. I would rather design my own goals with the guidance of society than to be placed in a dark room searching for an undefined purpose set by myself.

Is Meursault's Atheism Existentialist?

In Albert Camus' The Stranger, in the fifth and final chapter, Meursault encounters a chaplain before he lives out his death sentence. The chaplain expresses confusion at Meursault's seeming lack of care for his own situation, but Meursault is steadfast in his beliefs. He does not attempt to explain his position to the chaplain to the fullest extent possible, merely answering the questions that are asked of him, and later getting annoyed at the amount of questions being asked. He believes that there is no life after death, and the fact that there is no life after death does not concern him.

For its time, Meursault's atheism was likely perceived as existentialist. as his lack of belief in God indicates a belief in himself as a free agent (as well does the rest of the book). If there was no God, then what else could determine humanity's actions but individual humans?

When looked at through a modern lens, atheism is not necessarily indicative of an existentialist viewpoint. Atheism is defined as the lack of belief in a religion. That does not imply the existence of believe in oneself. Due to the increasing cultural prevalence of atheism in society, we are not necessarily inclined to believe that if one does not believe in God, one must believe in individuality.

On the contrary, non existentialist atheists might believe that humanity as a whole (large scale peer pressures) or the as-yet-to-be-defined set of laws that govern the universe as a whole yet don't subscribe to a deity. Or perhaps they believe that humans had free will at one point, but the advent of societal constructs such as justice, love, and friendship became so ingrained in the human psyche that we no longer have the freedom to think outside of them.

Regardless, when analyzing from a modern perspective, the fact of Meursault's atheism cannot be used as proof of his existentialism. It's up to the rest of the book to do that.

Just Meursault

Throughout, The Stranger By Camus, Very little happened that showed much emotion in regards to Meursault.  He had a trial where it was just bleh.  I could compound a much better world then bleh but it was.  Books and movies usually like to make the audience engaged with the seen and what's happening.  But I feel like Camus is trying to tell us something through nothing.  So what does all this tell us?  Why does Camus present us a story about someone with no emotion and with little introspective in his life?

Is God Absurd?

In philosophy, "The Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value in the meaning of life and the human inability to find any. Camus employs this theory in his analysis of The Myth of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus, according to Greek legend, was condemned to forever repeat the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. Camus believes that as long as Sisyphus accepts that there is nothing more to life than this absurd struggle, then he can find happiness in it. This notion of an absurd struggle is also expanded upon in Camus' writing of The Stranger.

In the The Stranger, on page 69 Camus writes, "He asked me if I believed in God. I said no. He sat down indignantly. He said that it was impossible; all men believed in God, even those who turn their backs on him. That was his belief, and if he was ever to doubt it, his life would become meaningless. 'Do you want my life to be meaningless?' he shouted." Camus emphasizes that without the presence of God this man's life would be meaningless. Dissimilar to the boulder that Sisyphus pushes, the presence of God in this man's life enables the man to live a life that is not absurd. Thus, the belief in God as a higher power enables individuals to live a life that is not absurd; God is not absurd.

Forgetting Our Greatest Desires

I somewhat agree with Camus’ argument that simple pleasures have room to emerge once people stop longing for things they can not have. I was not persuaded until I saw the parallels between his essay and Meursault's actual life. In Cumus’ essay, he argues that Sisyphus’ punishment is not the most grueling in the world because Sisyphus can be happy if he loses his desire to have things on Earth. Once he becomes content with his position in life, he will be joyful because he won’t be preoccupied with striving for anything more than what’s in front of him.

Meursault faces this reality while in prison. When he first arrived, he had the mindset of a free man. Once he lost his desire to have and do things from the free world like smoking cigarettes and going to the beach he was content with his life in prison and understood his punishment.

I do find there to be a fault in Camus’ argument. There are people who are not okay with giving up on their lives when something is not available to them. For some people, trying to get what they don’t already have is the driving factor in their lives. People who grew up without the same luxuries as others use that experience to drive them to earn what they never had. They would go to school, work, and do all what they needed so that they could live a life where they would be able to have all that they desired.

I suppose happiness is relative. Some people will be able to find happiness by being complacent while others will find happiness through hard work.

A Hesitant Defense of Meursault

In Albert Camus's The Stranger, Meursault is sentenced to death for not conforming with the jury's view on humanity. The thing that condemns Meursault the most in his trial is his lack of visible grief for his mother's death. It is this lack of grief that causes the jury to believe he is inhuman. The jury and Meursault have differing views on what makes one human. The jury believes that a base of humanity is that one will feel love and grief for a parent who passes, and will mourn in a unspecified way that they deem appropriate, but one which Meursault clearly violates. As such, the jury is convinced by the prosecution that Meursault is a "monster", as they continuously paint him throughout the trial.

But we the audience, with full insight to Meursault's thoughts, can see him as a person, and know they are misinterpreting the events as well as failing to understand Meursault as a person. Meursault takes enjoyment of from the physical things in life, the murder was not premeditated, and his mother's advice is mentioned throughout the novel, suggesting Meursault did care for his mother, even if it was not as shown or typical of what society would expect.

In light of this, we must ask ourselves: Did Meursault deserve the death sentence? And can anyone really make judgments about what makes one human?

Meursault was a person, and felt emotions, even if they were not the ones deemed appropriate by society. Does this make him human? Or does his general indifference to emotions truly make him an inhuman monster? And most importantly, why? Who has the right to decide what one must feel to be a human?

At the end of the day, Meursault undeniably was a murderer, as so legally did deserve some sort of punishment. However, in addition to being punished for murder, he is also being punished for failing some abstract notion of humanity pushed by society, leading me to conclude that the death sentence was an unnecessary extremity.

Why You Should Have No Hope

In the Myth of Sisyphus, Camus essentially argues that Sisyphus is happiest when he gives up hope that he will succeed in getting the rock to the top of the mountain without it falling. While the idea that there should be no hope may seem very pessimistic at first, it has a good amount of truth to it. If you hope for things and hope that you don’t experience pain then you will only be sad and disappointed when your hopes aren’t fulfilled. As sad as it is, pain and suffering are inescapable in life. Without it there would be very few of the social constructs like justice systems that have been created in the hopes of minimizing pain and suffering.

If one comes to accept pain and doesn’t hope for a perfect life or doesn't hope to have a big house or a lot of money, then they won’t be upset when things don’t necessarily go their way because they were ready for it. This allow people to appreciate the smaller things because they aren’t expecting more. It also makes it so that pain isn’t as negative of an experience because they expect it which makes those people happier overall.

Does the judicial system fail Meursault?

Society has a judicial system in place to find justice in the misdoings of others. In The Stranger, Meursault finds himself subject to societies expectations of being a moral person.

During the process of Meursault's trial, the question of right versus wrong is used to base the judgement against him. He is asked more thoroughly on his actions at his mother's funeral, rather than the events that took place at the beach. Meursault is very confused as to why they are not questioning him on the actions that he took, but on the morals behind his actions.

The prosecutor attempts to demonstrate to the jury that Meursault had no emotion at his mother's funeral, so that means that he could not possibly care about murdering the Arab. In society, there is a notion that everyone should act with the same morals, and that anyone outside of these parameters is to be considered the worst of a criminal.

Meursault has a different perspective in life compared to the rest of society. He does not view his actions as right or wrong, but rather as did I do them or not. He bases his actions on nothing. When he feels as though something needs to be done, he does it without mention of the backlash that could occur. While on trial for killing the Arab, he wonders why the case is not straight forward, as he admits to killing him, but does not understand why the court mentions his actions during and after the funeral of his mother.

The court system is looking for Meursault to get the death sentence. During the entire trial, Meursault realizes that he is not able to have a voice for himself, as it is seen that it will only prove to be detrimental to his case.

The prosecutor brings up his date with Marie after the funeral to try and prove that Meursault showed a lack of care towards his mother, and that will translate to every one of his actions yet to take place. The courts derive their verdict from the mere fact that Meursault has a different perspective on life. Because his realization of right versus wrong is different than society, he is sentenced to be put to death. The entire trial mentions nothing of Meursault's stance on what happened, as the judicial system already had the outcome waiting for him, which was to sentence him to death, so that there will no longer be any indifference to societies expectations of a person.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Stranger is Racist

The Stranger was heralded as a radical piece of literature but through the context of colonialism, it suffers from the accepted values of its time. The lack of empathy displayed by Meursault is supposed to represent a total adherence to the truth and because of this he inadvertently allows us to recognize the attitude of the colonist French and the native Algerians. For example, the description of the woman at the restaurant while she does not have a name her mannerism create the sense of a true person. While she is relatively unimportant to the plot she described as more than her race. She is used as an actual unique person which is a right which is never granted to the Arabs.

Meursault does not truly care about anyone, but he does recognize a varying degree of importance to other characters. He uses other characters names in his mental discussion but does not with the Arabs. Whether it is deliberate or just a product of the environment this was written in, the lack of humanization through Meursault inner monologue is at its most evident when describing the Arabs.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Strange Case of the Stranger

After reading about the case of Mersault, I was drawn to the utter lack of complexity in the case. Every one knew that Mersault had shot the Arab. He even said admitted to everything.

Thinking about the case of Mersault, my mind retreated back to the time when I read Twelve Angry Men. Unlike The Stranger, the case in Twelve Angry Men was much more complex. There was a controversial switchblade, conflicting witness testimony and intense jury deliberations. The case was the opposite of open and shut The jurors deliberated for hours, and their discussions were full of emotion and feeling.

Or when I watched the documentary series, How to Make a Murderer, the case of Steven Avery was full of suspense, mystery and lies.

Each one of these cases was full of emotion for the readers entertainment. It is what made Twelve Angry Men interesting to read, and How to Make a Murderer fascinating to watch. So why did Camus make the case of Mersault so uninteresting for the reader?

Physical vs. Emotional World of Stranger

Reading the first part of The Stranger, by Albert Camus, I noticed his surprising lack of emotions in his writing and his preference of describing physical aspects in the book.

These physical aspects are centered around the main character in the book, Meursault, as the story is told from his point of view.

The story begins with a very objective statement. "Manman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." Throughout the story, Meursault seems devoid from feeling any grief for his mothers death. He doesn't know how old she was when she died. He doesn't know her friends, and tell us that he rarely saw his mother. Camus purposefully leaves out many details about the emotions of Merursault.

On the other hand, Camus provides an abundant amount of details of Mersaults physical state and his surroundings. For example, the heat of the sun bothers and hurts Mersualt much more than the thought of burying his mother and only living relative. He describes, “I could feel the blood pounding in my temples.”

Mersault also describes his physical relations with Marie much more than his feelings towards her. When she asks him if he wants to marry her, he simply responds with, “Sure.” He says that he doesn’t care which girl it is with.

By leaving out or simply glossing over many aspects of social or emotional situations, Mersault’s descriptions become much more clear and detailed as he discusses the weather or his actions. This style of narration clearly shows Mersaults preference of the physicals world over the emotional world.

Correcting A Wrong With Another Wrong?

The death penalty is offered in 30 states in the United States. Last year 23 people were executed on death penalty. Was their crime bad enough to end their lives? An eye for an eye? Does it make sense to correct a wrong with another wrong?

In The Stranger, by Albert Camus, Meursault, the main character, is put on death penalty for murdering another man. To end another's life is an awful crime. He cut the Arab's life short probably by 50 years, causing so much pain to his family and friends that will have a lasting impact on them forever. But then something does not add up. How can killing a man be corrected by killing someone else? Meursault's friends will suffer just as much as the Arab's friends. His death will still be painful. My personal opinion is that convicted felons would be punished more if spending the rest of their life in prison. There they are stripped of their freedom and have nothing to do but think of the awful mistake they made to get in prison. This I personally feel like is the more morally correct decision and the felon would still serve their punishment.

Meaning/Meaningless of Life

Camus main argument within "The Stranger" and some of his other pieces play into the idea that human life is meaningless and has no greater, overriding purpose. Camus implies that the inevitability of death is the only real outcome of human life. Throughout "The Stranger", Meursault progresses towards this mindset as different aspects of his life continue to further this engrave these ideas into his mind. Meursault really grasped this concept after his talk with the Chaplain; thats when he fully came to terms with the idea that he will progress through the cycle of human life and then will not have much meaning or importance. He even says that he knows he will not be remembered and that his life didn't touch many. The irony of this is that Meursault is only able to achieve complete happiness after he fully grasps this concept. This mindset gives him closure on life and gives him reasoning for the situation he was in. He lets go of his fantasies and continues to make the most of his  final days -- aware that death is unavoidable.

Is the "Perfect" Male Really "Perfect"?

While reading The Stranger one of the things that was most prevalent to me was the way that Meursault acted around other people. He seems to be almost emotionless, and to be lead by reason but not desire. In his relationship with Marie he seems to only desire her sexually and not emotionally. For example when Meursault is on trial and Marie is testifying he doesn't describe how he feels emotionally away from her. He only describes how she looks. He states "Marie entered. He had put on a hat and she was still beautiful. But I liked her better with her hair loose. From where I was sitting, I could just make out the slight fullness of her breasts, and I recognized the little pout of her lower lip." Here he is only describing the way she looks physically and there is no emotion attached to that.

I think the way that Meursault is described is very similar to the way that a "typical" male is supposed to act. They are supposed to be emotionally detached and not show that they care really about anything. The woman is always supposed to follow the mans lead and do what he says. This is almost the relationship between Marie and Meursault.

This book almost exposes the faultiness of the "typical" man, and why one should not act like that. Emotion is important and relationships with emotion are essential to the human life.  Without emotion everything will fall apart. In the end I think this book helps the reader realize that being the "typical" version of a male is inevitably wrong and emotion is extremely important in human life.

A Stranger is Born

While we were reading the Stranger, we discussed that Mersault lacks the feeling of remorse. He goes throughout life with a flow that things fall where they may, yet at the end of the story he seems to burst with anger. We claimed it to be an epiphany. I feel that his epiphany was a realization of his life in a more holistic way rather than taking it one step at a time. The last sentence of the book, "For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and they greet with cries of hate," (123). He seemed to want the attention brought completely on him to finished with his last bit of life. No matter what type of attention, he wanted to be seen as he died. He went through his life without needing a change, and had a better view on life near the end.

I want to connect this with A Star is Born (2018).  The main character Jackson Maine, went through his life ignoring what happened to him when he was younger and the problems his father had left him with. He continued on in life, using drinking to block out a lot of his pains. Yet when he met Ally, he tried to use that as a way to bring himself up and out of his pathless hole, but it didn't work. Unlike Mersault, Maine did go through life with his emotions leading his path, even if they didn't take him the right direction. Maine did have similar change of path at the end after he went through rehab, he wanted to change for the better. He went through his own processes and apologized to the people who mattered to him the most, to make a difference. I wouldn't call it an epiphany, but it was a realization for him that things will not always be best.

The Stranger's Epiphany

At the end of the Stranger Mersault is confronted with his fate. This causes him to change his thinking and explore thoughts he had never had before. He has to confront death and eventually accept it. When speaking with the chaplain he refuses to think about life after death and instead just sees it as something that is going to happen and he has no control over. The more he talks with the Chaplain about the god, the more infuriated he becomes. He even thinks about Maman at the end of the story, something we never saw him do very much throughout this story. He only viewed her in a small way before, never thinking about her perspective or life. Things seem to mean more to Mersault towards the end of his life. His confidence also seems to grow massively, proven by the final lines, "I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate."

Does Meursault have Emotions or is He a Sociopath??

A sociopath is a person with a personality disorder that manifests itself as extreme anxiety and a lack of conscience. Throughout The Stranger, Meursault consistently shows little emotion towards the things around him. In the most recent chapters when Meursault goes to prison for murder, he does not seem to feel emotion about it and just wants to pass the time in whatever way he can. Even though he has a serious girlfriend, when she comes to visit, he is happy to see her, but after she is gone, rarely thinks about her. This shows that even though he has these relationships he only sees life as something that he has to get through. Furthermore, unlike the other prisoners, he is able to get used to prison life and almost doesn't understand how bad it is supposed to be. He does not feel extreme misery towards everything and instead thinks that everything is basically normal. He doesn't miss the people in his life outside of prison and seems to leave everything behind, rarely thinking about them. Relating to the definition of sociopath, Meursault has not shown any sadness about being in prison and does not even begin to feel guilt about the murder that he committed. A sociopath shares similar thoughts, almost seeing the world as a black and white place where nothing truly matters.

Death Row- I am a Killer

While I was reading the stranger, specifically the end when Meursault is convicted and put on death row, I thought of the Netflix show called I am a Killer. The show consists of a series of interviews of inmates on death row. Each episode is a about a new prisoner, and they are asked questions about how they feel about their situation and whether or not they received a fair sentence. Some argue they did not, but some say that they would rather receive the death penalty then rot in prison for the rest of their lives. One episode in particular reminded me of the stranger. The inmate does not care whether he is put on death row or not, he in fact would rather be put to death than have to live out the rest of his life in prison.
In the stranger, Meursault seems indifferent about his situation of being put on death row, similarly to the man in the show. The man in the show goes into detail on how he is guilty, but regardless he lives a sad depressing life, feeling as though he has nothing to live for, so he is indifferent on being executed. Meursault seems to have a similar view as the prisoner. Some of the prisoners in the show argue they were wrongfully convicted, and that they are being sentenced to death for something they did not do, or had little to no involvement in, which is why the topic tends to be controversial. The show instills a question in its viewers, should the death penalty be allowed?

Meursault vs James (The End of the F***ing World)

A modern day example of Meursault's existential existence is found in the character James from the netflix series "The End of The F***ing World." For those who've never seen the show, it follows a boy named James who believes himself to be a psychopath who meets a troubled young girl named Alyssa from his school. Because he believes he is capable, he decides he will attempt to kill her. 

Meursault and James are not completely identical, James has a more active desire for violence whereas Meursault is not capable of computing complex emotions and basic human interactions. However, they both clearly lack the ability to be sympathetic to others and this characteristic shapes the plot of both of their stories. 

Marie and Alyssa both bring out the more ''human'' side of Meursault and James. For example, Meursault feels happy when he sees Marie smile and is able to be romantic with her in ways he cannot be with anyone else. Alyssa serves a similar purpose to James because she helps him realize his true intentions as they develop feelings for each other. Marie However, is a much less developed character than Alyssa. 

As readers, we only see Marie as a something to serve Meursault. She is the object and Meursault is the subject. Alyssa, on the other hand,  is given her own backstory and the audience sees multiple instances where she is speaking from her own perspective. Alyssa and James appear to have more mutual recognition in their relationship because of this. 

Overall, the two stories can classify their characters in a similar way: distant, unemotional, and unrelatable. Camus constructs Meursault to be a symbol of the existentialist existence by demonstrating the ways in which he doesn't participate in any social constructs. If one compares this to James, his character begins with and existential life, but conforms to the social construct of love. So in other words, one can be viewed as the prime existentialist while James transforms into the more typical person who takes part in social constructions and beliefs. 

Murderer or psychopath?

At the ending of part one we are left guessing what the outcome will be for Meursault. In the beginning of part 2, Meusault is being questioned by the police. When being questioned he says that he believes everyone should eventually die, when talking about his mother. the look the interviewer had was the same as anyone, disgust. Meursault didn't understand why it made him uncomfortable but wanted to apologize to keep them on good terms. And throughout the prosecution the questions seem to focus more on Meursault's inability to have feeling towards his moms death and how he doesn't believe in god. Instead of focusing on the crime that was committed, focusing on the factors that may have a hand in it, it kind of hides the fact that he killed a person. With this the question is raised whether Meursault should be considered a psychopath or a murderer.