I really liked The Stranger. It was different than what I thought it was going to be.
I’ve owned this book for YEARS without really knowing what it was about, until I saw Jo’s review over at Beyond Strange New Words, and even then it sounded interesting but it took me a long while to pick it up and try it. When I read Jo’s review, I thought that the main character, Mersault, sounded a bit like a sociopath but I was so wrong.
Alright so after Mersault’s mother dies, he starts a relationship with a young woman named Marie and then befriends a local pimp, which leads him to committing a seemingly senseless murder on an Algerian beach. The first half of the book is getting to know Mersault and leads up to the murder on the beach. The second half of the book is the trial, in which the prosecutor focuses less on the crime and more on making Mersault look like some unfeeling, inhuman monster. And without going into detail, I was on his side.
I don’t know what this says about me… but I found Mersault to be a sympathetic character. His life is aimless – he has no ambition or motivations, and therefore is really distant and removed from other people. He appears emotionless, for the most part. Now, he does a few things that I thought were in bad taste. But overall he’s just kind of doing his thing and I actually related to him a few times – such as his wish that the lady crying at his mother’s funeral would just shut up. I mean, I’ll be BAWLING at my mom’s funeral someday (I love my mom), but I have been in situations like that and wishing that people would just relax and be quiet.
I guess that Camus was writing about “absurdism”, and society’s attempt to impose rationality and reason in an irrational world. Seeing as how I’m one of the “shit happens” kind of people (rather than a “things happen for a reason” kind of person), I guess this struck a chord with me and I enjoyed it. Also enjoyable was the fact that the person who possessed this book before me (her name is Ruby, according to the inside jacket) underlined things and took lots of notes, probably for a class, and I had fun arguing in my head at some of her statements.
Have any of you read this? Because this would be a really fun book to talk to other people about. And I mean fun as in discussing human nature and me defending people who seem cold and callous, and probably most people not agreeing with me but that’s alright. Tell me what you think!
Sarah Says: 4.5 stars