Examine Comus’ use of symbolism in part one of The Stranger. In your answer, you must discuss the connection between the symbolism and the character of Mersault. In the chapter one of the novel, we can all see several uses of symbolism to portray the character Mersault. Because the narrator of the book itself is Mersault himself, who feels very little emotion or none at all. Because Mersault barely discuss about his emotions and feelings. Camus’ use of symbolism creates connection to the character of Mersault.
Mersault has been discovered to be annoyed by heat, light and the sun. He finds these unbearable and a hindrance to him. When Mersault was walking to the church, he finds himself quite annoyed by the strong light and heat. He expresses that ‘it was inhuman and oppressive.’ During this walk, Mersault was quite tired and annoyed. Strong heat and light is the symbol of his frustration. Same use of symbolism can be found on page 57 when Mersault is on the beach watching over the Arabs.Order now
It reads, ‘there was the same dazzling red glare… all that heat was pressing down on me…’ This took place after the Arabs brutally attacked and assaulted Raymond injuring him. Mersault held the gun and started to shoot the Arab because he was annoyed by the light reflecting from Arab’s knife on his face. Shot the Arab once and again four more time with no remorse whatsoever. The book says that the light took control over Mersault and caused him to do the shooting. Mersault himself doesn’t quite know why exactly he did the shooting of the Arab who was the brother of the Mistress, but he blames the light. ‘Overpowering’ heat and the light also acts as a warning.
Mersault’s attitude also displays that he is an outcast of society. Besides the fact that he does not have emotions or feelings at all, he doesn’t quite fit into the society because he himself prefers being a social outcast. On page 25, Mersault mentions about a hand towel in his office. Mersault liked washing hands during lunchtime since on that time, the hand towel is quite dry and it has to last all day. Mersault dislikes wiping hands on a soaked towel.
This symbolizes that he puts himself away from everyone else. The soaked towel at his working place symbolizes the society. After many of the other workers wiping their hands on the same towel, it is soaked wet. Mersault prefers wiping his hands when it’s dry, before everybody else. He places himself from everybody else, he tries but he is different. He is not easily understood by others, which is also the reason why he is the ‘outcast. And he keeps to himself almost all of the time.
Mersault’s lack of emotion is also shown in his response to his neighbors. When Raymond was talking about how he was beating up and harassing his girlfriend until she bled, Mersault showed no interest and reacted almost like it was nothing. He says, ‘it didn’t matter.’ This attitude towards such event is greatly different from others. Others may be disgusted and horrified by this incident and react to it, but to Mersault its nothing.
Mersault just sits there and just listens to Raymond. Not all that would cause Mersault to do something, he just listens. When Salamano’s dog went missing, Mersault again feels nothing change he didn’t care anyway. Even after witnessing and overhearing Salamano weeping next door, Mersault seems to be not interested. Mersault lacks emotional feelings, which is not accepted by society. The use of symbolism that this novel contains tells a lot about the void character of Mersault. The readers should be able to read between the lines in order to fully understand what these symbols are, and how that tells about Mersault’s characteristics.