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Deaths Role In Albert Camus The Stranger English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1645 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the stranger the death, appears on three occasions. First, there is death in the beginning when Mersaults mother dies, then in the middle of the book when Mersault kills the Arab and finally at the end of the book – Mersaults own death. These three deaths are important events in the book. The introduction of the books begins with “Today mother died” [2] ), the reader of the book is surprised and expects Mersault to grieve. In the very next sentence, “Or maybe yesterday, I do not know.” [3] ) The reader is surprised of Mersaults indifference. Some readers may see it as people grieve in different ways and that Mersault might not grieve at all because his mother was old and weak and that the death ended her suffering I myself am born in Russia and not to grieve my mothers death or to send her to a nursing home would be rude, but from what I have personally noticed is that the culture is partially different from that in Sweden. In Sweden, it can happen that people should not mourn her/his parents’ death, as people do abroad. And it is not seen as wrong to send his/hers parents to a retirement home.

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But in Algeria in the 1940s, the time when the stranger takes place, it was very rude and degrading to first send their mother to a nursing home and the not grieve her death. This argument is reinforced when Mersault is sitting in the trial of the murder of the Arab and the prosecutor initiates every argument or claim with “the day after his mother’s death” [4] ), which is making any accusation more serious. One example is “The same man who the day after his mother’s death, dedicated himself to the shameful desires and committed the murder under the ridiculously insignificant excuse of trying to get out of a shamefully event.” [5] ). The second time the reader encounters death in the stranger is after his mother’s death is when Mersault kills an Arab. The unimportance and relief that Mersault shows both upsets and annoys the reader. Mersault will barely remember that he has killed another human being and there are numerous examples of this. An example is when Mersault is questioned by the trial judge and asked if he has no lawyer and he responds with a wonder if it was really necessary to have a lawyer because his case was very simple. Mersaults sees self the interrogation as a parody: “I had read in the books of such descriptions and it all seemed to me as a comedy game.” [6] ). Finally the circumstance leads to the final encounter with death – Mersaults own death. The reader may never participate in Mersaults execution because the book is written in diary form of Mersault himself. In his last conversation with the priest it appears clearly that he does not believe in God. When the priest asks Mersault to make a confession he says that he did not have much time left and continues with: “I do not want to squander it on God.” [7] ) This shows that Mersault has accepted the conditions of life and the reason of the consequences of his choice to shoot an Arab. Just before his execution Mersault realizes that he has always been happy [8] ).

Unlike The Stranger death comes several times in the Heart of Darkness. Examples of this are Freslevens death [9] ), the firing at the Africans in the beginning of the book [10] ) and Marlow’s Captains death [11] ). Before Fresleven journeyed into Africa the book described him as “the quietest, most humble creature that walked in a pair of shoes.” [12] ) It can be seen as surprising and shocking that such a quiet man dies because of some misunderstanding of a few chickens, but the reader can relate to this back to earlier work, where a doctor said that Africa changes the human – The one that used to be a quiet and humble has can been influenced by Africa and its jungle. As the book continues, the reader can observe through Marlow’s descriptions of how Europeans changes in Africa and that Africa is realistic, real and that Europe is just a dream – And in that way the doctor’s claim is reinforced that if you experienced its realistic in Africa it would change one’s personality. Later in the book there will be a bombardment against Africans. The book describes not Africans even as enemies of the wildest imagination, but as criminals. [13] ) During the shelling the Africans are described as they are not worth anything. When the trip continues through Africa, Marlow describes it as a journey back in time, which refers to the Europeans’ view of the colonized people (Africans) as primitive and lower on the evolutionary scale compared with Europeans (White). In the middle of the book Marlow’s gets attacked by Africans which is describes as savages. During the attack Marlow Captain dies and this surprises the reader of Marlow’s indifference when he takes and changes socks and shoes instead of ensuring his captain. “Honestly, I was completely obsessed by my desire to change feet.” [14] ) Before Marlow is entering the house where Kurtz lives, he sees the faces of the piles; all facing the house expect one. Marlow will not be horrified but rather surprised because he had expected to see a wooden ball. The last time the reader meets Death in the Heart of Darkness is when Kurtz dies. Here, once again, the reader is seen as surprising how indifferent Marlow is when he gets to know that Kurtz is dead- He just keeps eating and says: “It was named that I was brutally unemotional.” [15] )

The Stranger uses Albert Camus death not only for the intrigues. Death is important for Camus to highlight the books view of existentialism. He does this by using Mersaults views on death and life – good example of this is his mother’s death, which highlights what readers perceive as indifference. The second death reinforces this when Mersault seems not to show any remorse. Mersault is starting to show emotion when his own death approaching, for example, the outcome of the prison priest [16] )) and with this Camus will try to show that one’s own death is the only time you will always be emotional. Mersault thinks that there is no purpose in life except to live and eventually die and that death is inevitable as well as natural and therefore nothing to be upset about. What Camus is trying to say is that you should take the consequences and you cannot throw the blame on someone or something. An example of this is when Mersault does not throw the blame on god as he sees it as it was his choice to shoot an Arab and therefore he stands also for the consequences. In the book Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad, uses death to improve the plot and then also as a tool to highlight the books meaning. The main topic in the Heart of Darkness is the discussion of imperialism and colonialism. In each case, as death occurs in the Heart of Darkness, there is a purpose. An example is when Brussels described the “white grift-town” where the company’s headquarters is located. The term “White grift-town” comes from the Bible, where the grift-town is described as something beautiful from the outside but containing the horror of dead bodies. Grift is often associated with death and Europe is actually the place where colonialism was and still is colonialism that ultimately killed the white people and their colonized countries and people. Using this image of Brussels, the reader can easily perceive and understand how violent Belgium was in its colonies and its inhabitants in Africa. Death is every present in the book and the large amount of dead may be Conrad’s way to criticize colonialism. The stranger’s death made for a clearer and simpler way, since the document focuses a lot on the three highlights of the book. In Heart of Darkness is death all the time spoken of. Death is always present and frightening to people’s lives and both authors included that death of their works to enhance both indifference and greed.


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