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The opening line of the novel, “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday.” has often been cited in arguments that claim Mersault was indifferent to his mother. But a more complex and insightful view is that Camus shows Mersault's lack of connection to expected human emotional reaction by caviling about how long it took the news to reach him. This remoteness from an emotional reaction, or more accurately, an outward display of emotion, is a precursor to his curious nonreaction to the shooting that is at the center of the novel. Mersault is a “stranger” to pre-constucted human qualities; that is the existential gist of his relationship to his mother. Yes, he could have wept at the news, but the fact that he did not is insufficient evidence to conclude that he didn't "care" for her.
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