by Albert Camus
The Stranger Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Matthew Ward's translation, published by Vintage International published in 1989.
The sun was starting to burn my cheeks, and I could feel drops of sweat gathering in my eyebrows. That sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me, all the veins in it throbbing under the sun. It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward. I knew that it was stupid, that I wouldn’t get the sun off me by stepping forward. (1.6.24)
The powerful sun pains Meursault and compels him, by pure chance, to take a step towards his absurd fate. According to him, he doesn’t make a decision to step forward; he is compelled to step forward.
The Arab drew his knife and held it up to me in the sun. The light shot off the steel and it was like a long flashing blade cutting at my forehead. At the same instant the sweat in my eyebrows dripped down over my eyelids all at once and covered them with a warm, thick film. My eyes were blinded behind the curtain of tears and salt. All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes. That’s when everything began to reel. The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire. My whole being tensed and I squeeze my hand around the revolver. The trigger gave […]. (1.6.24)
Nature unleashes its fiery hell against Meursault, and he becomes irrationally, though probably unintentionally, violent. Of course, because he is the narrator, we really can’t trust this description any more than the members of the court can trust his absurd defense that "the sun made me do it!"
Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness. (1.6.24)
Without explanation or motivation, Meursault shoots four more times at the dead body before him. Such behavior is purely irrational and capable only by a misanthrope, as the result of severe detachment to mankind.