What is the relationship between Meursault and his society in The Stranger by Albert Camus?I mean how they view each other, is there any connection between them?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Stranger by Albert Camus, Meursault and his society are at great odds with each other.  At the beginning of the novel, Meursault learns of his mother's death, and he engages in a vigil to show his respect.  However, after this, Meursault appears to be unmoved by the death of his mother, and others around him think that he should show a deeper sense of mourning.  Meursault does not see why it is necessary to show overwhelming sad emotions--he cannot change the course of nature, and he is not shocked by the death of his mother.  Eventually, Meursault is put on trial for murdering a man and is convicted not because he is presumed guilty, but more because he has not shown sympathy for his own mother's death.  The society in the novel expects people to behave in a particular way upon the death of a loved one, and Meursault's actions do not follow this line of social normality.  Thus, the relationship between the two is fraught with tension, and one of the themes of the novel emerges--the existence of the absurd among accepted social norms.

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The Stranger

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