“The Stranger”; reasons, why Meursault was isolated, were not directly stated though. By the text we can tell that he doesn’t enjoy communicating with others, but we all ask the same question, why? Mersault was not a people person at all, and he didn’t like talking about his emotions either, in fact, he didn’t even like to show them. Although the reasons of his isolation were not mentioned, they helped with the overall effectiveness of the novel in many ways.
A few elements that created the isolation in the character of Mersault were the absence of his father, the disconnection he had with his mother, and the post-war pre-war attitude changes.
The time in which the novel took place, also contributed in the effectiveness of Mersault’s isolation. Although the War is seldom mentioned, we know that by the time period the war did affect the way people thought, and felt not only about themselves, but about life in general.
The narrative took place in France during pre-war post-war time, after World War I and Before World War II. France was devastated after the war. Most of the western front was in France, and many of their villages were destroyed. This was a very difficult time period for many people there, because they had lost many loved ones. France alone after World War I had more than a million deaths, which was more deaths than in any other country. Many of their men had gone off to war, and a lot of them did not come back home, and the ones who did, did not return home safely.
This time period was a time of depression for most French people. People’s attitudes changed drastically! They became more isolated, and angry. Another thing that led people to become isolated was the economy. It was pretty bad during this time, which caused people to become angry and frustrated at the world. That is why Mersault was not able to care for his mother; he was not financially stable to, because of the economy at the time. “You weren’t able to provide for her properly. She needed someone to look after her. You earn only a modest salary.”
(Camus, Page 4) Mersault was not paid enough to be able to take care of himself, and his mother, so that is why he had to send her away.
A kid without his father is like a house without a foundation. He doesn’t have what he needs to grow up to be a strong man; which is that special bond between a father and a son. Mersault lacked the presence of his father while growing up, which made him the way he was; pessimistic and isolated. It is important for a boy to have a male role model while growing up, so he can have someone to look up to and go to for advice. Without that role model, a kid has a bigger possibility of growing up to be socially challenged, and Mersault is the proof of that. He didn’t get the love he needed from his father, and he never got to see his father show love to his mother. Therefore he never saw how a man should treat a woman, and the love he should show her. I think that is why he was never able to show love for Marie. He says, “A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so.”(Camus, Page 35) Mersault had never experienced love, so he wasn’t quite sure what it felt like to love, or to be loved. When he finally had someone telling him that they loved him, he didn’t know how to react. I strongly believe that if his father would have been present in his life, he wouldn’t have had that problem. “We swam a few strokes and she reached out and held on to me. I felt her legs wrapped around mine and I wanted her.” (Camus, page 59) He had no respect for women, and he had no feelings for her. He only wanted her so she can please him. I also believe that Mersault’s character had no direction, because he didn’t have a father to guide him to do the right things, and although he had his mother with him, he didn’t quite like her much.
Usually when I think of a relationship between a mother and its child, I think of warm and loving feelings, but not in this case. Meursault didn’t even remember the day his mother passed away! “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.”(Camus, Page 3) Meursault didn’t bother visiting his mother when she was in the nursing home either. He says he didn’t visit her “because it took up my Sunday-not to mention the trouble of getting on the bus, buying the tickets, and spending two hours traveling”(Camus, Page5), he was so isolated from the world, that not even his own mother mattered to him. He and his mom had sort of like a love-hate relationship. He didn’t care for her, because he felt that she was responsible for him not having dreams or ambitions. He mentions in the novel that after his mother became ill, it was the beginning of his problems. “Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy.
When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered.”(Camus, Page 41) After his mother got sick, he had to stop studying to care for his mother, and after that he just gave up on everything. He began to believe that there was no point in living, and started to live without a care. At this point is when the relationship with his mother and people in general, began to change. He in a way blamed his mother for his change, and stopped caring for her completely. The day of her funeral he showed no emotion, because for him his life had ended way before hers did. The day of his trial he was asked if he loved his mother, and he replied, “Yes, the same as anyone”(Camus, Page 67), he of course got judged by everyone in the room. Everyone thought of him as a strange man, because he said he loved his mom the same as everyone. Most of us love our mothers more than we do strangers, but he admitted that his mother didn’t really mean much to him. His isolation from other people got so bad, that his isolation itself was the reason he got condemned. The Arabs did not matter at that point. What did matter was the fact that he was different than everyone else. He didn’t cry at his mother’s funeral, so he got put in prison because of it.
Due to his mother, father, and the attitude changes from the war, Meursault was isolated not only from his family, but from society itself. He showed know emotions towards nothing or no one, and although the elements of his isolation were not directly stated in the narrative, the reader was able to understand the author’s reason for Meursault’s indifference.