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Camus’ Stranger and Me

A few months ago I picked up the Stranger by Albert Camus. I had heard of him and the book so I wanted to see how the book was. I was somewhat prepared because of course I knew it was about the alienation of people from one another. But I was not well enough prepared.

The story was somewhat perplexing—mainly because many of the characters and occurences plus the thoughts of the main character were contrived. His apathy was just too much. I couldn’t believe a real person could be so apathetic. It seemed to me the author was writing more of a fable than a novel. He wanted to convey apathy and alienation so strongly that he would sacrifice any semblance to real humanity.

I suppose the only part of the story that approached a semblance of reality was at the end when the condemned man turned from apathy to hatred. I felt he was full of hatred throughout his whole life but it was only admitted at the end.

Was this Camus’ tool to make the thing more poignant? Maybe so.

But really I was left with the feeling Camus was saying the man was not responsible for his apathy or hatred because of everything that was put on him from the outside—by society.

It seemed like the reader was supposed to draw the conclusion the man didn’t deserve to die for his apathetic, almost involuntary crime. But my feeling was the man (and many real people besides) had committed murder many times before—inwardly if not outwardly. He did not love or care for human life, never did, and behaved accordingly.