Discuss Meursault's emotional indifference to the death and funeral of his mother in The Stranger. In what ways is he a "stranger"?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Camus's "The Stranger," Meursault is indifferent and uncaring toward many of the emotional events of the novel. His own mother has passed away, and he is entirely dispassionate toward this development. Meursault acts like a stranger in his own life, existing and interacting but never quite relating to anyone with whom he deals with.

He realizes that he barely had a relationship with his mother and her death has such little effect on him that he continues on as if nothing has changed. This callous nature shows that he is so far removed from his own life and from the traditions of society that he is essentially a stranger in a strange land—living here without truly touching anyone's lives or connecting with anyone.

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teachertaylor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Camus's The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault is relatively unmoved by the death of his mother.  He is concerned that his mother has died, and he travels back to her home and attends the ceremony and vigil.  Others around him are clearly distraught; however, Meursault has not been close to his mother and feels that he grieves accordingly.  After the funeral, Meursault realizes that the death of his mother has not had a large impact on his life, so he is ready to move on with things.  When later his is tried for murdering someone, the community is more disturbed to find out that he knows little of his mother's life and that he is not upset by her death.  In this way, Meursault is a "stranger" to the conventions of society--he does not fit into the model of behavior that society has created for its members and more importantly, Meursault does not see the need to fit in.  (British publishers of the novel translate the title as The Outsider which speaks more strongly to Meursault's "otherness" in this situation.)

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