Read The Outsider Summary here in this article. “The Outsider” is a modern novel written by Albert Camus.
- Full Title: The Outsider
- Author: Albert Camus (1913-1960)
- Written: 1941- 1942
- Published: 1942
- Genre: Philosophical Novel
- Settings: Algiers, Algeria
- Meursault: Meursault is the protagonist of the novel. He is a 30-year-old shipping clerk. He is a pagan.
- Raymond Sintès: Raymond is Meursault’s neighbor. He has a conflict with his mistress.
- Marie Cordona: Marie is a young woman who formerly worked at Meursault’s office. Now Marie dayes Meursault.
- Arab: Meursault murdered this Arab. He is a brother of Raymond’s mistress.
- Salamano: One of Meursault’s neighbors. He cannot think of life without his mangy dog.
- Masson: Meursault’s friend, who has a beach house. Meursault shoots Arab while visiting his beach house.
Theme: Meaninglessness, Absurdity, Existentialism.
The Outsider is a novel written by Albert Camus (1913-1960). It was published in 1942. This novel is considered a classic of the 20th century. Camus was born in the year just before the First World War. His father died early in the war. He grew up through the horrors of war. So in his story, we find Absurdity and Existentialism.
Death of Meursault’s Mother
Meursault, the main character of the story, is a thirty-year-old young man. He himself is the narrator of this story. He lives in Algiers. A telegram comes to him and it says that his mother is dead. After receiving this news he leaves for Marengo There his mother lived in a nursing home. Meursault falls asleep most of the way. After reaching the nursing home, he talks to the director there. The director allows him to see his mother’s body. But he finds his mother’s body already sealed in a coffin. When the caretaker tries to open it, Meursault forbids him.
That night Meursault keeps vigil next to his mother’s coffin. He is also accompanied by the caretaker who talks excessively. So Meursault doesn’t like him at all. He smokes cigarettes all night and drinks coffee. The next morning, Meursault meets the director again. The director informs him that an old man named Thomas Perez is organizing his mother’s funeral. His mother had a good relationship with the old man. The funeral is held in a small rural area. It is so a hot and sunny day that Perez becomes faint. Meursault states that he remembers very little of the funeral. That night he returns to Algiers in a happy mood.
Meursault’s Daily Life
The next day Meursault goes to the beach. He spends a good time swimming. He then spends time with his former colleague Marie Cardon. That evening they also watch a comedy movie together in the theater. After watching the movie they spend the night together. When he wakes up in the morning, he finds that Marie is gone. He stays in bed till noon. Then he sits on the balcony until evening and looks at the people passing by.
The following Monday, Meursault goes back to work. He has lunch with his friend Emmanuel and then works all afternoon. On his way home at night, he meets his neighbor Salamano on the stairs. Salamano is an old man whose life revolves around his pet dog. Then he meets another neighbor of his, Raymond. Raymond is rumored to be involved in prostitution. However, Raymond invites Meursault to dinner. During the meal, Raymond explains how he punished his mistress for cheating on him. Due to this incident, Raymond has a problem with his mistress’s brother. That’s why he wants to take revenge on his mistress. And so Raymond wants Meursault to write a letter to his mistress. He will try to persuade his mistress on Raymond’s behalf to return to him. Meursault agrees and writes a letter that night.
The next Saturday, Marie comes to Meursault’s apartment and asks if Meursault loves her. Meursault says he doesn’t know and it doesn’t mean anything to him. Just then the two hear screaming coming from Raymond’s house. They go outside and see the police have come. The police slap Raymond and tell him to go to the police station for beating his mistress like that. When Raymond asks Meursault to testify, he agrees. Salamano meets Raymond that night. He mourns for his lost dog.
Killing the Arab
Marie asks Meursault again if he will marry her. This time he gives the same reaction. But Meursault says that they will marry if Marie wants to. Then they get engaged. Then on Sunday, Meursault, Marie, and Raymond go to Massion’s beach house together. They swim and have a lot of fun. Then they have lunch. In the afternoon, Masson, Raymond, and Meursault are met by two Arabs. One of them is the brother of Raymond’s mistress. Two Arabs involve a problem with them. Raymond is injured in the fight. He is then brought to Masson’s house and given first aid. Feeling a little better, Raymond and Meursault go for a walk on the beach again. They meet the Arabs again. Just as Raymond is about to shoot, Meursault grabs the gun and stops him from firing. Raymond’s mistress’s brother is then shot and killed by Meursault for no good reason.
Meursalt’s strange behavior
Meursault is arrested and sent to prison. His lawyer is very upset by his lack of remorse for his crimes. Even the lawyer is quite surprised to find that he has no grief over his mother’s death. Then the chaplain comes to meet him. He also does not understand Meursault’s behavior. He shows him a cross and asks him to believe in God. He does not agree, instead stating that he does not believe in God. The chaplain leaves embarrassed.
One day, Marie comes to see him. She hopes that Meursault will be released and that they will be married. As Meursault awaits his trial (trial), he also adjusts to life in prison a bit. Staying away from nature, women, and cigarettes make him distressed. But gradually he learns to live without them. He doesn’t have much to do in prison, so he spends most of the day sleeping.
Meursault is taken to court early in the morning for trial. The room is filled with witnesses and various people. The murder trial quickly becomes intertwined with Meursault’s character traits and his reaction to his mother’s death. Many others, including the director of the old age home, who had attended her mother’s funeral, have been called. They all speak of his carelessness that day. Even Marie hesitates and is forced to say that the day after Meursault’s death they go on a date and watch a movie. After hearing this, the judge calls him a monster. And when he is asked why he kill the Arab, he replies “Because of the sun”. And this argument never gets accepted. After considering everything, the judge declares Meursault a danger to society due to his lack of moral sense. He is found guilty and sentenced to death.
Meursault returns to his prison and awaits death. He can’t accept this cruel irony of his fate. He even thinks of running away. He also dreams of filing a successful legal appeal. He has a little hope that maybe one day he will get out of here. Then one day a priest arrives against Meursault’s will and asks him to give up atheism and believe in God. The priest is surprised that Meursault does not believe in life after death. Suddenly Meursault gets angry and grabs the priest by the collar and abuses him. He says he believes in nothing but the meaninglessness of earthly life. This is the first time Meursault acknowledges the non-existence of human life. He throws away all hopes for the future. Everything to him is meaningless, non-existent, and strange. And this belief makes him somewhat happy.
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