How can an individual be defined as a person? According to an article from Vladimir Lossky, personhood should be based on “personal relationship” (Lossky). Should a total outsider that acts differently from the rest society be considered a person? Meursault from The Outsider by Albert Camus is a total outsider. Meursault is an atheist, living in Algiers between World War One, and World War Two.
Meursault is an exceptionally honest man, who lacks emotions and has a nihilistic view on life. During, the novel Meursault loses his mother, and his life goes horribly wrong from there. Meursault ends up killing an Arab, and is guillotined because of Meursault’s personality. Overall Meursault should not be considered a person, because he is unable to think rationally for himself and lacks emotions.
Meursault has a very unusual way of thinking, and thus he shouldn’t be considered a person. In the novel Meursault was offered a promotion from his boss but unlike normal people Meursault refuses, because Paris is dirty. Meursault only sees life as his physical surroundings. This explains the reasoning why Meursault killed the Arab on the beach.
During the altercation between Meursault, and the Arab, the Arab pulled a knife, but Meursault was not intimidated by the knife he was afraid of the Sun which made the knife appear as a “long flashing sword” (60). Meursault believes that when he is exposed to the Sun society is able to see him as he really he is. Furthermore, Meursault shouldn’t be considered a person, because of his nihilistic view on life.
Meursault believes that life is meaningless, and not “worth living” (109). It doesn’t matter to Meursault whether he dies at “thirty or seventy” (109), because we are all condemned to the same fate: death. Next, Meursault should not be considered a person, because of his atheist view on life. In Algiers “all men believed in God” (68), and it was a disgrace to not believe in Him. Finally, Meursault’s unusual thinking is one of the key reasons that lead to Meursault’s demise.
Along with his inability in thinking rationally, Meursault should not be considered a person, because he lacks emotions. In the beginning of the novel Meursault’s mother dies and, instead of mourning or crying, Meursault shows no emotions. Along with showing no emotions at his mother’s funeral, Meursault abandoned his mother by putting her in a home and barely going to “see her” (11). Also, Meursault felt like his mother’s funeral was hell as there was “no way out” (22).
Besides showing no emotion towards his mother, Meursault shows no emotions to his lover Marie. Meursault only uses Marie for physical things such as sexual intimacy and feels no emotions towards her. Although, the level of intimacy is great between Meursault, and Marie Meursault “doesn’t think” (38), that he loves Marie, and that love doesn’t “mean anything” (38). Marie and Meursault’s relationship clearly meant nothing to Meursault, because her memory “meant nothing” (110) to Meursault.
Furthermore, Meursault shows no emotions even to one of the most atrocious of crimes assault on a female. During the novel, Meursault becomes friends with Raymond Sintes who is a pimp and a woman beater. Becoming friends wasn’t enough for Meursault; he helped Raymond write a letter which led to the assault on a woman. Clearly, Meursault has no emotions and that is why he showed no remorse when he murdered the Arab.
What is a person’should Meursault be considered a person? Ultimately, Meursault should not be considered a person, because of his unusual thinking, and his absence of emotions. Meursault’s absence of emotions makes it hard for him to build personal relationships with others, and making him not a person according to Lossky’s interpretation of a person. Moreover Meursault is more like a machine than a person, because he has no empathy for others.
Throughout the novel Camus shows what it means to be an outsider in society. Camus’ main message in the novel is that being an outsider will eventually lead to a quicker death. Meursault wasn’t executed for killing an Arab; he was executed for being different, because he is an outsider. Through creating the novel Camus is trying to get the message that everyone is different, and by understanding someone as absurd as Meursault humans will be more understanding of people’s differences, no matter how different or how inhuman they may be.