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madbkwm

madbkwm

The Stranger - Albert Camus,  Matthew    Ward I had read this book before, but it is short and quick and seemed easy enough to re-read before providing a rating and review. In the spirit of Camus, I will try to provide a quick, concise, and straightforward review. :)

Mersault is a logician. He is (possibly) slightly autistic. He understand the emotions that other people feel and he is prepared to feel them, but he doesn't. I don't believe this makes him strange (or a stranger). Personally, I relate to Mersault quite a bit. I have often thought that I don't feel things as much as other people. Which, of course, brings us to one of the central questions of the book...do we all experience things in the same way? Mersault's resistance to tell Marie he loves her has nothing to do with a "lack of commitment" or other such relationship-lingo garbage; he simply is not sure that he understands what is meant by love. He does not know if he has experienced it as others; he knows that he is attracted to her, but is not willing to lie to her about the fact that the sexual attraction does not spread to anything else. Similarly, he does not dislike or reject his mother; he simply does not think of her when she is not with him and will not really notice her death since she was removed from his life previously when she went to the home.

Civilized society thinks that a lack of empathy means psychopathology. I don't believe this is true. During his trial, Mersault's lack of empathy for his mother's death is brought as evidence of his "criminal" (read psychopathological) nature. I disagree. I think the reader's foray into his head allows the generic Joe (representing society at large) to simultaneously evaluate Mersault as lacking empathy and to empathize with him.

Once condemned, Mersault begins to fear death. Again, he displays clear rationality. He is not afraid of death in principal and even understands that a pardon will only delay his death (which is inevitable for all). "Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter." He never considers that his mother is already dead or that he shortened the Arab's life. While able to rationally understand (but still regret), he continues to be unable to imagine any other's positions.

A great book that allows one to understand the psychological nature of a very logical and non-emotive brain.