The Stranger by Albert Camus: Characterization and Techniques in the Novel

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Michael Boulos

Anton Pav

I.B English 1

28/04/14

Characterization and techniques of hard-boiled fiction in The Stranger

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.”(Camus, 1) This quote said by Meursault, the main character in Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger, clearly represents the author’s main focus, known as the meaninglessness of life. Albert Camus intentionally made this a driving theme in his novel and he did so due to his absurdist view towards the world. Through the novel, he intertwines his past experiences from his presence in World War I. This absurdist philosophy of Camus also clearly presents the view of life in which moral orders have no rational basis and it is presented through Meursault’s emotionally detached character. Meursault is a character that doesn’t show any sorrow during his mother’s funeral, he doesn’t believe in God, and he ends up committing an act of murder on a person he has no relationship with. His description and character traits do the best job at portraying the way in which Camus life. In his mind, there was no purpose or reason to life, and this made his writing quite unique. In addition, Camus’ distinctive writing style plays a major role in implementing this absurdist view of life. His writing style also has certain characteristics of the writing style known as hard-boiled fiction and this style is described as an exaggeration of masculine traits such as being brutal, tough, and fierce. Other characters such as Raymond are also used to prove his uses of hard-boiled fiction. In his French originated novel, he uses Meursault’s distinct character and techniques of hard-boiled fiction writing to present the meaninglessness of life through the philosophy of absurdism. As mentioned earlier, the writing style known as hard-boiled fiction emphasizes on the masculinity of certain characters and portrays them as ferocious people. Certain traits that the hard boiled fiction writing style consists of are traits such as being in a hostile or violent environment, being apathetic, being cynical but honest, and quite importantly, the writing of the work in translation is just reporting and there’s no commentary or opinions made upon characters or actions that take place throughout the story. These traits play a major role in representing the meaninglessness of life. “If there’s any trouble, Masson, you take the other one. I’ll take care of my man. Meursault if another one shows up, he’s yours”(Camus, 53). Raymond said this when he was at the beach with Masson and Meursault and they were about to instigate a fight with the Arab guys due to one of their relationships with Raymond’s previous girlfriend. This quote also supports Raymond’s type of character in the novel because he is a jealous womanizer who is very suggestive with his attitude toward women, obviously seeing them as expendable, while also being violent tempered, and belligerent. In addition, a clear example to prove his contentious attitude towards woman is the fact that he told Meursault that he would hit his girlfriend a few times. As you can see, Camus is representing these three characters as violent men who are brave and can fight anyone and this is clearly represented to show how nothing matters to these individuals and that they don’t really have any moral codes which further symbolizes the meaninglessness in life. Another quote that clearly supports the use of this distinctive writing style is, “ As always, whenever I want to get rid of someone I’m not really listening to, I made it appear as if I agreed” (Camus 63). This was said by Meursault and this quote is one that clearly shows the type of character that Meursault is because he is a person who doesn’t really care about what happens so if he’s in a situation where he wants to get rid of someone who is talking to him, he would simply lie and agree with him...
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