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The Outsider Essay

1504 words - 7 pages

The Outsider – Albert Camus
Albert Camus presents ideas of identity and the human condition in his classic novel The Outsider, through his exploration of gender and cultural representations as well as an insight into absurdum and existentialism. These concepts of identity and the human condition reflect on the society in which the novella has been set, demonstrating how women, those of other cultures and those who are considered to be different are represented. The novella tells a recollection of events of a young man named Meursault, emotionally detached from a society where he refuses to conform to society’s conventions and in turn a refusal to ‘play the game’. The novella begins with the ...view middle of the document...

This act of dismissal from someone of authority, displays how women are undermined in this society.
Gender is also represented in the novella through the character of Meursault’s friend, Raymond, in which he displays ideas of a male dominated society. Raymond presents this idea of male dominance through his relationship with his girlfriend, through the violent acts he commits towards her. He beats her if she does not obey his commands and treats her if she is a much lesser person compared to him. The idea of male dominance is amplified when a police officer is called to the scene of a violent domestic between the couple. When the officer arrives and sees Raymond in her condition after being beaten he sends her home without word of what had happened. He then informs Raymond to wait to be called for questioning. ‘He was to wait in is room until he was summoned to the police station’ (page 39). The policeman’s actions towards the situation, shows what little importance violence towards women has on this society. Raymond’s actions would be seen to at a later date rather than be addressed at the time of incident which portrays the idea that women are of very little importance.
Camus presents ideas of identity in his classic novella The Outsider through cultural representations. The novella is set in French colonial Algeria where the French run the country leaving the Arab population is condemned for a life of unacceptance and division. The language contained within the novella, particular the language of the protagonist Meursault defines how culture is represented in society. Meursault is always in touch with his senses, taking note of the world around him, always creating vivid images of the weather, the sun, all the physical aspects of the world in which he lives. This however is not the case for Meursault when it comes to the people around him. Meursault doesn’t often comment on those around him except when it comes to culture. ‘There was an Arab nurse’ (page 12) ‘I noticed two Arabs’ (page 54) ‘The Arabs where advancing’ (page 54). This constant reorganisation of the Arab culture when other cultures are not mentioned creates a division between the two cultures. The culture references in the novella show how culture is represented in society. Those in control leave the culture that is not in control isolated and divided.
Death plays a major role in the novella The Outsider. The story both begins and concludes with a death, creating the idea that death is all a part of the human condition; we all die in the end, which reveals Camus’ own ideologies of absurdism. Death is explored through the structure of the novella, through the parallels between the death of Meursault’s mother in the beginning and the lead up to his execution in the end. When Meursault’s, he shows what most would consider an unusual reaction to the death of a love one and accepts it. He shows little emotion to the subject and demonstrates his understanding of death, it is part...

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