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The Stranger

The Stranger


by Albert Camus

The Sun, Heat, and Weather

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Meursault is hardly a sunny dude. But he is inordinately affected by the sunshine... and not just in the way that normal humans are. It's not like sunshine makes Meursault cheery and Seattle-esque fog makes him want to crawl under the duvet and mainline Netflix. The sun basically controls all of his emotions... which is extra inconvenient because our man lives in the perma-sunny Algiers.

Depending on its intensity, the sun either makes Meursault sleepy, angry, happy, or resentful. Or Dopey. Or Sneezy. For a guy with a limited range of emotions to begin with, this is quite extensive. It's almost as though Meursault is using the sun as an excuse to justify every feeling he has. 

And the murder he commits.

So let's take a look at this murder bit. Just as Meursault is about to turn around, to leave the beach altogether, we hear this line: "But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back." "But," he says. He would have left, but the sun was too intense. The sun "[makes him] move forward" toward the spring (and therefore, toward the Arab).

What kind of guy lets the weather dictate his actions? As we've seen many times before, Meursault is a "path of least resistance" kind of guy. He's also mentioned that his "physical needs often [get] in the way of [his] feelings." We see these both at play here; it's easier for Meursault to step towards the cool water and away from the sun, and his feelings of apprehension (probably about the impending showdown at high noon) are inhibited by his physical need to cool off.

It's also perfectly reasonable to claim that Meursault is like an element of nature himself. After all, he claims at the end of the text that he's found a kinship with world—that it is so much like himself, a "brother," really. 

Additionally, if all living beings are made equal by death (which Meursault argues at the end of The Stranger), then he is just a creature of the world himself; it makes sense, then, that he's subject to his physical surroundings. We shouldn't think of him as any sort of higher level being—just as an animal with physical needs, pains, and desires.

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