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the stranger - Period 6 April 7 2008 Mersault's Development...

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Period 6 April 7, 2008 Mersault’s Development of Self In the novel The Stranger , Albert Camus depicts the spiritual journey of Meursault, who fails to comply with society's values and is eventually sentenced to death for that reason. Though Mersault is convicted for murder, he is judged on actions in which his behaviors contradict established social standards, not actions related to the crime. Meursault's attitude toward life differentiates him from society, and his non-conformist actions pose a threat to societal standards. During the course of the novel, Meursault progresses from being passively content with little introspection to deliriously happy upon his realization of the common denominator of human existence: that all humans inevitably die. While waiting for his imminent execution, Meursault concludes that there is no meaning to life and that all events are random. At the beginning of the novel, Mersault is indifferent to the world, but at the end, Meursault realizes the world is equally indifferent toward him, a realization that frees him from any thought of the future and allows him to appreciate life for only the present. Meursault begins his ordeal with an indifferent attitude toward social conventions and life in general. Meursault makes his apathy known from the [1]
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opening lines, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know” (3). Meursault's indifference toward his mother's death is apparent as he recounts the facts of his mother's death as plainly as the telegram had stated it. After this initial quote, Meursault attends the funeral with the same unconcerned attitude, one that strikes those at the retirement home as veering from societal norms. Events and conversation are bluntly narrated and it becomes apparent that Meursault values “getting used to” things rather than appreciating events. This displays Meursault’s preoccupation with the physical aspects of his world rather than the social or emotional aspects. At this point, Meursault does not suggest that he has reflected at all on his motives for caring more for his physical needs, nor does he seem to have any desire to do so. Meursault is largely able to escape social establishments in Part One. Apart from his initial attendance at his mother’s funeral, Meursault does not feel compelled to do anything, and Meursault breaks several social norms at his mother’s funeral with remorse. No one confronts Meursault directly about this, however, but we do see a brief moment of reflection on Meursault’s part when he says he feels he is being judged. He dislikes this feeling and dismisses it as ridiculous, but it’s clear that Meursault is bothered by it “” (). [2]
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Meursault’s society has established a legal system that punishes those who fail to follow the law. Laws, justice, and punishments are all ideas created by society to establish a sense of order, but Meursault does not conform to this (or any other) basic societal norm. In Part Two, Meursault attracts attention for being so cold- hearted and unwilling to express remorse. In a conversation with his lawyer,
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