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In the novel The Outsider, Camus, through the protagonist Meursault, explains how being an

existentialist is a way to cope with life. His philosophy of you are alive and therefore you exist

and his belief that there is no purpose to life control the action in the entire novel. The actions

that happen in the novel are ironic because of Meursaults attitude towards the societal norms

and expectations that are considered strange by the society. Although according to him his

attitude is absolutely reasonable.

Stream of consciousness is a method of narration that describes in words the flow of thoughts in

the minds of the character. The language used is therefore simple and straight forward allowing

the readers to understand what the protagonist believes. This technique is used by Camus as a

tool to establish the philosophy of existentialism in the novel. Furthermore, it also enhances the

readers understanding of the ee novel. Using the first person narrative, the readers also

understand that they will not obtain a reliable point of view as the flow of thoughts only

represents the thoughts of the protagonist. Therefore, Camus employs stream of consciousness as

a device to convey the true self of the protagonist and through the protagonist the readers are

allowed to see the other characters and connect with the novel. The readers are able to see that

the thoughts of the protagonist tend to focus on the present rather than thinking about the past or

the future and this justifies why Meursault is an existentialist by living life for what it is in that

moment where acceptance becomes the fundamental factor.


Likewise, by the use of stream of consciousness the novel indicates that Meursault isolates

himself and forgets to acknowledge those requirements and the norms of the society in which he

is in which essentially makes him The Outsider in the novel. When Marie asks Meursault if he

wishes to marry her, Meursault replies with an I dont mind and similarly when Marie says

marriage is a serious matter, Meursault denies it by saying No.. This clearly indicates that

Meursault is a man who talks from his heart and his views are never changed or altered by the

societal requirements and demands. In the same way when Meursault says I could feel my

forehead swelling under the sun... I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists in my trouser pockets...

the thick drunkenness it was spilling over me This enables the readers to understand that the

shooting of the Arab was unintentional and it was due to the heat of the sun which was

intolerable to him. Although this is the truth, when Meursault explains it in the courtroom, the

society does not acknowledge it as a valid excuse. Therefore, his action to kill the Arab seems

irrational to society. (Nguyen, 2013)

Only towards the very end of the novel we can see that Meursault is trying to understand his

emotions but until then he does not consider emotions to be a part of his existence and therefore

he does not care about them. This is because he has everything that he wished for in life and was

satisfied with it. Once he starts to represent his thoughts about how he misses smoking, physical

happiness with Marie and the world outside, the readers get a sense of feeling that he is not an

outsider anymore because he does represent how he feels about things that he considered to be

important in life yet are not part of his life in that moment in time. He then uses his stream of

consciousness in the form of replaying his memory and experiencing it within the four walls of

the prison. This keeps him occupied and says a lot about how his character has evolved from the

Part One to Part Two of the novel. In addition to that when Meursaults approaching his death, he
faces it in such a way that an existentialist would have. He says I felt that I had been happy and

that I was happy again. When the time came for Meursault to go he was well prepared to face

it. He able to accept his death and is looking forward to being less alone. Through his narration

we can see how the mindset of Meursault changes when the novel approaches its end, when

Meursaults life itself approaches the end.

The philosophy of existentialism is also shown throughout the novel. This philosophy is

becoming popular amongst the youth which makes the novel more attractive for the readers of

my age. The use of stream of consciousness not only helps in the holistic understanding of the

novel by itself but through the language the readers would also be able to understand its

applicability in a realistic world. The mission of being an existentialist, established through

Meursaults narration, stays the same: to make us recognise that human beings are free to choose,

not only what to do when faced with moral choices, but what to value and how to live. All these

are portrayed in the novel by the character Meursault though his narration although it ends in a

tragedy. The first sentence of the novel was indeed shocking to me because Meursault shows no

emotion over his mothers death. This was surprising to me because the society in which we

reside in would not find this acceptable and it would be considered a crime not to cry at your

mothers funeral. Furthermore, although the philosophy is applicable in a society similar to that

represented in the novel, if we were to follow the existential philosophy, we are likely to face the

consequences similar to the one that Meursault faced at the end of the novel.

The novel acted as a pathway for Camus to represent his situation and dilemma. Camus wrote

this novel to bring forth the true meaning of life and human existence to the readers attention.
He also wants to represent how the societys views are almost always opposing an individuals

moral values. In the case of Meursault, the courtroom focuses more on his act of being

emotionless at his mothers funeral is investigated more than exploring the reason behind why he

killed the Arab. Meursault does not understand why he is not being investigated for the crime of

killing but for the crime of not crying at his mothers funeral. On the other hand, the society is

more concerned about Meursault, not adhering or fitting into the societal expectation and

therefore becoming an intruder. All this is evidently seen through the language used by Camus in

the novel. Hence this conflict between the individual and the society becomes the pivotal point

through which the novel revolves around.