Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Model Selections from the Camus Papers Archive

Elina R6

I thought this essay did a fine job transitioning between two passages and connecting them--You are picking up this first paragraph mid-argument, but Elina establishes the relationship of Salamano and his dog to argue that Camus shows that relationships can force people into subservient and authoritarian roles that eschew individuality. Notice Elina's transition, (though she could've highlighted this with her own language a little more)--how Camus introduces Raymond immediately after this scene to establish a connection to Raymond's relationship with his mistress--a very appropriate comparison for her thesis. Camus' decision to introduce Raymond after this scene is so critical to highlighting his characterization. Though subtle, plot placement can be effective in argument, much more effective than plot summary.

In this particular relationship, Salamano has power over the ignorant dog. The role each character plays is evident when the spaniel attempts to surpass his owner making Salamano stumble behind him. Old Salamano in response to the humiliation and disobedience “beats the dog and swears at it. The dog cowers and trails behind. Then it’s the old man who pulls the dog” (27). Salamano’s authoritarian power takes over his character making him act violently. He uses his superior size and knowledge to his advantage to get back at the dog and keep him under his control. The failure of this relationship has unleashed an evil beast within Salamano. The unsuccessful correlation has changed him by turning him into an aggressive character. Salamano has assumed his position as the master, controlling every situation as he pleases, without any concern of how the consequences may affect his companion.

Along with Celeste, the owner of the diner, Meursault tries to identify the cause of Salamano’s violent behavior. Unfortunately, Salamano is too busy yelling at his dog to notice he is being spoken to and leaves the diner. Subsequential to the violent exit of Salamano and his dog, Meursault encounters his other neighbor, Raymond Sintes. He is known as the man who uses women to make money but when asked, he replies he’s a ‘warehouse guard’. As the conversation of the two men unravels, Meursault finds out that out that Raymond has a mistress and that he has beaten her until she bled. Raymond comes off as exactly what he calls himself, a ‘warehouse guard’. His behavior suggests that he uses women when he pleases and puts them away in a ‘warehouse’ once he’s through with them. Camus purposely has Meursault consequentially encounters his two neighbors who happen to both have unsuccessful relationships. In order to emphasize his view on relationships, Camus introduces Raymond and his mistress.

Benwit L6

I thought this was a solid introduction and an interesting thesis--the technical term Camus employs here is juxtaposition, another technique authors use to establish subtle theories on complex topics.


The importance of religion in humanity is a disputable issue that has been brought up countless times. Religion both enlightens and angers people; it is capable of both causing war and giving people the will to live. In the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, Camus suggests that religion is not essential to living a complete and fulfilling life through the vastly contrasting interactions Meursault has between the abrasive Raymond and the faithful chaplain.

Except for the last seven words of the conclusion (cliche), I thought this was a nice example of "finishing" the logical argument of an essay without "saving the main point until the end" or "summarizing the main points of the essay"--both things you want to avoid in conclusions. Conclusions are probably the hardest thing to teach for this reason.


Meursault as a symbol can be seen as the voice of reason and as a character, a human being untouched by morals and by unscientific thoughts. Therefore, Camus suggests that humans by nature do not require the concept of religion to be truly considered humane. In addition, the reader can infer that human nature will naturally have an affinity toward earthly desires as shown with Meursault’s friendship with Raymond. Logically speaking, living a carefree and perhaps moral-less life may be more natural than living with the commonly accepted morals that may be holding people back from living their lives to the fullest.

Meg S 6

I thought the main point of the thesis (though the intro could've been more subtle and integrated) was pretty cool. This gets at something incredibly universal without falling into cliche--the success, of course, comes in the following argument. I am posting the first couple of pages (the most effective). I think the image of the "bulging stomachs" could've been further analyzed for author's purpose in the first body paragraph--any theories on what Camus was doing? This is also a wonderful example of character analysis--most of you suffer from your theories about why characters act they way they do, but do not go back to the text to psychoanalyze them. The text here (imagery and actions) are critical to establishing character analysis.

In The Stranger , author Albert Camus' curt diction, offensive tone, and simple, direct syntax contribute to the characterization of the main character, Meursault. Meursault acts inhumanely in the face of situations that typically elicit emotion. Through his characters' indifference, Camus exposes the tendency of men to put on a masculine front in order to hide their true emotions.

The first instance of his insensitivity is at Maman's funeral. Her friends, the other elderly residents from her nursing home, come to keep vigil around her casket. Meursault first mentions them as a "rustling sound that woke me [Meursault] up" (9). In his eyes, they are nothing but a mere noise, completely insignificant to what he is thinking about. He observes that the women all have "bulging stomachs" and he says that he "never noticed what huge stomachs old women can have" (10). Elderly people are often highly respected members of society, and younger generations have a natural tendency to speak of them with courtesy. Meursault, on the other hand, uses rude, disrespectful terms, such as the aforementioned bulging stomachs, or "toothless mouths," (10). Camus chooses these words because it reveals the first sign of Meursault rejecting emotion. Meursault has "the ridiculous feeling that they were there to judge [him]" (10) and because he thinks that about innocent people who came to pay tribute to his mother, it is an indication of his insecurity.

Meursault's insecurity grows further on in the passage as well. He emphasizes multiple times that one woman "kept on crying" (10) and he wish that he "didn't have to listen to her anymore" (10). This woman comes to the funeral to pay her respects to Maman and to express her sympathies to Meursault. This act of compassion is met with resistance; Meursault, annoyed by her crying, is only concerned for himself and not for her. He does not want to face the sadness of losing his mother, and hearing crying, a sound of sadness, might trigger emotion, so he dismisses it as an annoyance. His sentences are very short and choppy, structured with simple subjects and verbs, and their directness conveys his agitation. The caretaker of the home tells Meursault that the woman was a very good friend of Maman's, and that now she "hasn't got anyone" (11) but that is the last that Meursault speaks of the woman in the passage. The commentary about this woman stops here because Meursault does not want to deal with the feelings that might stir within him if he interacts with her. By acting like he is tough and does not care about the woman, who could conceivably be one of the only links left to his mother, Meursault is putting up a masculine façade in order to divert the emotion.

After this point, Meursault shuts down; his diction and tone are more inappropriate and reckless, as he tries to overcompensate for his lack of emotions. Meursault states that the woman "finally shut up" (11). The phrase 'shut up' is usually used by teenagers or children, not adults talking about their elders. He complains about being "tired" and that his "back was hurting" (11). This physical need overtakes any other feelings or emotions, and a stereotypical man puts his physical needs, desires, or feelings before anything else. A "strange noise" (11) then aggravates him, and he identifies it as a "weird smacking" (11) sound that the elderly people are making by "sucking at the insides of their cheeks" (11). The connotation of this description is more like animals than it is like humans, so Meursault cannot relate to them directly. His diction here is demeaning, and it is particularly so because these people are hurt by Maman's passing, and attend the funeral to support him and mourn the loss of his mother. His final thought of the passage is that "the dead woman lying in front of them didn't mean anything to them. But I think now that that was a false impression," (11). He refers to his own mother as a 'dead woman' and that shows that he is indifferent to the whole situation, almost as if he is looking in on these events from the outside. He is a stranger to emotions, as the title of the book suggests, and his coldness covers him up so that emotions cannot penetrate within him.


Angela S5 said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt of Elina’s essay and found it helpful for my own writing. In my essay I was having trouble transitioning from passage to passage, but Elina does it in a smooth and clear way. I also liked her connections between Salamano and his dog and Raymond and his girlfriend. She made interesting points about how Salamano treats his dog with “authoritarian power”, which I never had thought of before. Also she gave a substantial amount of background information for each passage and when I read the passages I remembered where these events occurred in the book. Great job!!

Angela S5 said...

I enjoyed Benwit’s thesis and conclusion. His thesis was clear and it made me interested in the paper and want to continue to read it. I like his conclusion the most. I liked that he said Meursault can be seem as a symbol and how he connected him to society and religion. He did a good job at summarizing his thoughts and his ideas of his papers. I also like the conclusion because it allows the reader to not just think about The Stranger but about their own lives and what they believe in. Good job!