My mother died today. Or maybe from yesterday, I don’t know either.
Albert Camus opened The Stranger PDF with two such succinct sentences. These are perhaps the most memorable opening sentences in modern literature. My character made an important announcement – the death of the mother, but the way he reported was somewhat indifferent. For him, whether that event happened today or yesterday, it was “no sense.”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Mersault said so much about the many events happening around him as well as the events of his own life. The attitude of indifference expressed him: a person who is simple, pure, and what he says, and thus, becomes a “stranger”.
The noun “étranger” in French means: bystanders, strangers, or foreigners. The American translation of the book is often titled The Stranger, meaning “stranger”, “stranger”, and the English translation is The Outsider, meaning outsider, marginalized. Both translations have their own rationalities, and both are true for the main character Mersault: a stranger to himself, marginalized and a French guy living in Algeria.
Mersault is not the type of person that makes readers easy to sympathize with. Moreover, he did not seek sympathy, and that made him constantly in trouble.
At first, he annoyed those around him when he did not shed a tear or show little suffering at his mother’s funeral. Right after the funeral, he went out with a girl and went to bed with her.
A few days later, he caused death almost completely without cause, in a conflict involving a friend. An Arab guy held a knife in front of him, and he happened to carry a gun. The sun was scorching, making him lose his temper, and he pulled the trigger.
A completely meaningless murder, with no specific motive. The killer may defend himself only in self-defense, but woe that he is too honest: he only recounts the events as they were. That is, he himself is not sure why he pulled the trigger.
The meaningless nature of the murder seems to be an insult to the lawmakers, who insist that anything must have some motivation and meaning.