This is my second time reading The Stranger by Albert Camus.
The novel explores the philosophy of existentialism through the eyes of its main character, Meursault. The story begins with the news of Meursault’s mother’s death and follows him as he navigates through the subsequent events of the funeral, his (problematic) relationships, his experience at a certain “event”, and finally his reflection on himself after the same “event”.
The novel is split into two parts. Part one deals with Meursult’s experience over a period of time, leading up to a major “event”. Part two deals more with Meursult’s “reflections” on himself during a trial.
Now, there are a couple of major issues in the novel:
First, the depiction of women and the obvious misogyny toward them is an issue in this novel. The female characters are often depicted as crazy or stupid, and the word “breasts” appears almost every time a woman is mentioned in the novel. In fact, the female characters only exist as plot devices, and nothing more.
Second, the depiction of non-European people is also a HUGE problem in The Stranger. None of the “Arab” characters are given names, they are always referred to as the “Arab(s)”, and they are not seen as individuals but as an entire group of “others”. Also, absolutely NOTHING is mentioned in the trial of the “Arab” victim, instead, it only focuses on Meursault and his actions, and his “criminality”. It’s important to note that Camus’ views on colonialism changed in the mid-’50s when he began to criticize French colonialism in Algeria, before that, Camus’ writing (including this novel) was very much supportive of French colonialism.
All in all, “The Stranger” remains one of those must-read books of all time, as it offers great value to major philosophical questions, mostly in existentialism and nihilism. Is life just an absurdity? Is everything meaningless? Does anything matter? What is the point of life?