My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.’ In The Outsider, his classic existentialist novel, Camus explores the alienation of an individual who refuses to conform to social norms. Meursault, his anti-hero, will not lie. When his mother dies, he refuses to show his emotions simply to satisfy the expectations of others. And when he commits a random act of violence on a sun-drenched beach near Algiers, his lack of remorse compounds his guilt in the eyes of society and the law. Yet he is as much a victim as a criminal. Albert Camus’ portrayal of a man confronting the absurd, and revolting against the injustice of society, depicts the paradox of man’s joy in life when faced with the ‘tender indifference’ of the world.
The first of Camus’ novels published in his lifetime, the story follows Meursault, an indifferent settler in French Algeria, who, weeks after his mother’s funeral, kills an unnamed Arab man in Algiers. The story is divided into two parts, presenting Meursault’s first-person narrative before and after the killing.