Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spirituality and / or Philosophy in Lit Group



Group members:

Mels R.
Matty Z.
Cynthia R

I think a good place to start, to get some "philosphy" from Camus before you being, is his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus." You can wiki it to read about the essay as well.

Schedule TBA.

24 comments:

Cynthia R said...

HOWDY FOLKS!

Well, since we were discussing it in class the otehr day, I thought a great idea for our book would be THE DIVINE COMEDY. I always read and hear references to it and I honestly think that we could benefit from reading this book.

What do you guys think? (this might be difficult so maybe...)

Siddhartha also sounds good since its about Buddism (which none of us in this group practice) so it could be a good learning experience. We could also read The Stranger, which is about a man who has no emtions...it sounds great and interesting to me (or doesnt sound like anything at all since it is emotionless) LOL Oh how I crack myself up!

so Siddartha, The Stranger??? huh huh huh????

Mels1619 said...

hello cynthia and matt!!

well...i research the books that you mentioned cynthia and I really like The Stranger so we should pick that one? I don't know what matt thinks??
So far that is my number one
choice! Let's get going then!

Cynthia R said...

the stranger sounds great to me

= )

Cynthia R said...

the stranger sounds great to me

= )

Cynthia R said...

Post: 1 Part: A

So the question asks us to reflect upon a certain part of the nocel that has been thought provoking. To be honest, I did not have to read much to find interesting passages. The very first paragraph in THE STRANGER was interesting enough.

"Maman died today. Or maube yesturday, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'MOther deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Failthfully yours.' That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesturday," (page 3)

How can someone be so stoic? How can someone be so indifferent to the death of his own mother?

As soon as I read this very first passage I knew that I would enjoy reading this book. As the story continues, the character keeps this emotionless view on life. He travels trhough town, talks to people, and even hangs out with a possible love interest; and he does all of this with no emotion. It is such a different view on life compared to the one I am used to. I wonder if as Americans, we see the character this way whn e in actuality he is jsut being normal; after all, Americans tend to be a very expresive and emotional group of people. Monsieur Meursault's "Sure, why not?" pales in comparison to American's "Oh my god!". I also woner if the way we view Meursault has anything to do with the way the story was translated from French to English? (just a thought).

Overall, however, I am anjoying the book so far. It is interesting to read about a man hear of his mother's death, have sex, and listen to a man talk abut beating his lover, all without a care in the world. It seems Meursault cares more about smoking and sleeping. Since this is the spirituality group, I was wondering if maybe Meursault's lack of emotion and careing has another to do with a lack in religion or faith?
(those were just some thoughts to get us started)

Cynthia R said...

Hello group!

As I read THE STRANGER, there was another passage, or set of passages that I wanted to draw attention to. The relationship between Meursault and Marie is a very peculiar one. They seem to love each other, and yet Meursault's thoughts and comments don't show it. An example of this is on page 35 when the narrator (Meursault) writes, "When she laughed I wantd her again. A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so." It would seem that Meursault only has a physical and not an emotional attraction to Marie but I doubt that is the case.

Another example of the relationship between Marie and Meursault is on page 41 when Meursault says, "That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said ti didn't make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. then she wanted to know if I loved her. i answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't love her....She just wanted to know if I would have accepted the same proposal from another woman, with whom I was involved in the same way. I said, 'Sure.'"

Anyone reading this would easily assume that Meursault has no feeligns for Marie and was just using her. I, however, believe that he really does care for her; he just has difficulty showing it. He loved his mother and never showed it. He really cares abotu Marie and thinks about her but just does not show it.

The real question here is not whether Meursault loves Marie or not, but instead why he has such difficulty expressing it. We learn later on that he warms to idea of marriage but never expresses it to Marie. We also learn that Meursault does not believe in God...(lack of faith). Once again I wonder if that has anything to do with it. What do you guys think?

R. Gallagher said...

Good job Cynthia. Hopefully there will be more comments coming soon from the group.

Matt Z! said...

At first, I must admit that this book had me slightly confused. We are doing a "spirituality" themed book group, right? How can we "study" spirituality and philosophy while reading a book whose main character has the emotional capacity of a thimble? Anyway, for starters I would like to answer my own question. As I will elaborate on later in this post, the main character demonstrates incredible apathy towards anything going on around him. He has no preferences, and without personal preference, how can he create a system of personal morals? How can someone who is not effected in any deep way by anything around him represent anything spiritual? They can't. And that's the answer. Just like yin and yang are opposing yet complimentary parts of the same whole, so true is a spirituality and a complete lack in spirituality. This is just to expand on something Cynthia touched on: ". . . maybe Meursault's lack of emotion and caring has an[ything] to do with a lack in religion or faith?"

Anyway, with my personal thought train explained for the rest of the group to see, I would like to throw in my personal opinion on the book thus far. Sorry Cynthia, but I can't really agree with you on this one. I must say I find Meursault's complete apathy to be almost annoying. Parts that get under my skin the most are:

On Page 11, at his deceased mother's vigil: "We just sat there for quite a while. The woman's sighs and sobs were quieting down. She sniffled a lot. Then finally she shut up. I didn't feel drowsy anymore, but i was tired and my back was hurting me. Now it was all these people not making a sound that was getting on my nerves."

Page 30, where his "friend" is describing the event that caused him to kick his girlfriend(?) out of the house: "He'd beaten her till she bled. He'd never beaten her before. . . Then he explained that that was what he needed advice about. . . he wanted to know what I thought of the whole thing. I said I didn't think anything but that it was interesting."

And if I may be so bold as to reference a key passage that Cynthia has also sited in her second post;

". . . Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn't make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't love her. . ."

What bothers me the most is that these are mostly HUGE things in life; HUGE points of transition, shocking moments, etc.. Some are, once again, HUGE in a good way, while others are in a bad way. And the way that the main character doesn't seem to care at all bothers me. I wonder where this book is going because it doesn't seem like the book, plot-wise, can have any direction if the main character himself doesn't have any kind of ambition.

Mels1619 said...

Hello group!!!

Well to start off, I would like to say that I'm enjoying this book very much. Like Cynthia and Matt mentioned before, I am shocked by Meursault’s character. He demonstrates to be a careless person by his first reaction “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” (3) I found it interesting to see how someone can be so emotionless when such new has been received.

Moving on, I found a passage quite interesting: “‘One last thing: it seems your mother often expressed to her friends her desire for a religious burial. I’ve taken the liberty of making the necessary arrangements. But I wanted to let you know.’ I thanked him. While not an atheist, Maman had never in her life given a thought to religion.” (6) This passage kind answers our doubts of why Meursault seems so careless. According to the passage, Meursault’s mother never really showed interest for religion, making Meursault grow up in an environment where faith didn’t play such an important role.

Unlike Matt, Meursault’s personality doesn’t bother me at all. It’s a new way of looking at life and interesting to read about someone who demonstrates little emotions. I enjoy reading about a character that seems to not care about anything, not even his mother’s death. At the same time, I find it funny to see how this man cares so little about his surroundings. For example, when Raymond was beating that woman, he witnessed the brutal violence, and he refused to do something about it. His only response was “I don’t like cops” (36) seriously, who says that? He felt not sympathy for that poor woman.

In overall, I’m enjoying the book. Perhaps now that he is going to prison, he might change his perspective towards life.

Matt Z! said...

In Part II of the book, there was one passage that really stood out to me that I would like to share with the both of you.

On page 68:
"Speaking very quickly and passionately, he told me that he believed in God, that it was his conviction that no man was so guilty that God would not forgive him, but in order for that to happen a man must repent and in doing so become like a child, whose heart is open and ready to embrace all. . . To tell the truth, I had found it very hard to follow his reasoning, first because I was hot and there were big flies in his office. . ."

This is the first time in the novel that Meursault has been directly confronted by and interected with and extremely religious situation. Melissa predicted in her last post that possibly Meursault would change his ways now that he had been arrested, but we can clearly see now that that simply isn't the case, at least in the moral/spiritual department.

Where things have begun to change noticibly is the relationship between Marie and Meursault. The first hint at their developing romance, and the cracking of Maursault's shell, occurs on page 75 where Meursault is in prison and wants "to make the most of Marie's being there" to visit him. This is a phraze that he has not spoken before in the book, and it seems completely out of character for him. It's the first time where true positive emotion is hinted at. A similar instance occurs on the next page where Meursault states that once he begins writing to Marie from prison, "the things [he] never liked talking about began." True emotion? Affection? Love, even? I wonder what this could mean.

Finally, I was wondering what you guys thought about a certain passage at the very end of Part 2, Chapter 2. Meursault says that "for the first time in months, [he] distinctly heard the sound of [his] own voice. . . and [he] realized that all the time [he] had been talking to [himself]."

Is this a recent development? Is this the product of being alone in a jail cell for most of his time? It could also be possible that Meursault has been talking to himself ever since the beginning of the novel, and that his lack of emotion could be due to a sort of mental illness, hinted at by this passage.

Cynthia R said...

Post 3: Part: B

Yay! You guys have given me a lot of material to respond to. To begin I want to say thanks to Melissa for agreeing with me, but I can also where you coming from Matt. I can see how Meursault can annoy you. He seems like he would be a frustrating person to be around; not talking much, never really giving a straightforward answer, and being so indifferent to everyone and everything around him. I guess what I like is that I don’t know anyone like that. It is a completely new and blank view of the world.

Going off on the idea that this story’s main character has no emotions, is a thought that I have had throughout the novel. It is interesting that Camus can keep the reader interested even though he offers little dialogue and his main character expresses very little. Camus does not include much dialogue and more importantly, he is not very descriptive when t comes to setting either. Personally, I like Camus’ writing style; it is simple and quick. I can get through the story quickly without being bogged down by complex sentences or over-descriptive passages about the environment the character is in.

I also wanted to respond to Matt’s second blog. Two things in your blog really stood out to me. First, you mentioned a part in the book when Meursault was first directly confronted by religion. When questioned about his own beliefs Meursault admits that he agreed with whatever the persecutor was saying to him, only to get him to stop talking. Along with Melissa, I also thought that Meursault might change once in prison but as Matt pointed out, there was no change. Later on though, I believe that there will be a change in Meursault after all. If there isn’t a change, then how will Camus conclude the story?

Finally I wanted to respond to Matt’s comment, “Finally, I was wondering what you guys thought about a certain passage at the very end of Part 2, Chapter 2. Meursault says that ‘for the first time in months, [he] distinctly heard the sound of [his] own voice. . . and [he] realized that all the time [he] had been talking to [himself]." Is this a recent development? Is this the product of being alone in a jail cell for most of his time? It could also be possible that Meursault has been talking to himself ever since the beginning of the novel, and that his lack of emotion could be due to a sort of mental illness, hinted at by this passage.”

Matt, I am glad that you pointed this passage out because I too, was very interested in it. If he had heard his voice for the first time in months, then I could only think of two possibilities: either Meursault has not talked since the trial began (because his lawyer has instructed him to do so) or Meursault has been talking to himself this whole time as Matt hinted at. It seems likely that Meursault would talk to himself, since he never talks to others. If he does have a mental illness then that would account for his lack of emotion for how calm he was when he killed a man. It is almost as if he is secluded from society: he functions normally but doesn’t interact with others normally.

As Matt also mentioned, it could be the fact that he has been in prison for a while. If that is the case, then as Melissa predicted, being in jail in changing Meursault. Maybe once he realizes what he had, he might learn to appreciate it (i.e. Marie).

Cynthia R said...

Post: 4 Part:A

Eureka! I believe that I have found something very interesting within the reading. As you both may know, we have been discussing Meursault’s lack of emotion for a quite a while now. We have been wondering why he is the way he is and if he will ever change.

If you turn to pages 89-90, you will come upon what I believe is the first sign of true emotions that comes from Meursault. This passage is from the scene in which Meursault is in the courtroom and the trial is not going in his favor. The judge, “then asked the prosecutor if he had any questions to put to the witness, and the prosecutor exclaimed, “Oh no, that is quite sufficient!” with such a glee and wit such a triumphant look in my direction that for the first time in years I has the stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me.”

I was shocked to read the confession from Meursault. It seems like for once he realizes the severity of the situation; it is almost as if he has been sheltered from his surroundings all this time and things are finally hitting him. Interestingly, Meursault uses the words “stupid urge to cry”. This implies that Meursault is upset about having emotions or the sensation of showing them. Clearly expressing himself is something that Meursault stays away from. This idea goes hand in hand with an earlier thought that I had about Meursault; the man does have emotions, he just chooses not to show them. It could be that he has had feelings about things this entire time but just chose to reveal them now.

On a completely different topic, I wanted to draw attention to the very end of chapter 5 on page 107. Meursault is being led out into the courtroom and says,
“I didn’t look in Marie’s direction. I didn’t have time to, because the presiding judge told me in bizarre language that I was to have my head cut off in a public square in the name of the French people. Then it seemed to me that I suddenly knew what was on everybody’s face. It was a look of consideration, I’m sure. The policemen were every gentle with me. The lawyer put his hand on my wrist. I wasn’t thinking about anything anymore. The presiding judge asked me if I had anything to say. I thought about it. I said, ‘No.’ That’s when they took me way.”

I had no idea that this would be the outcome of the trial. Honestly, I knew that he would be found guilty, but I would never have imagined that they would hang him. Interestingly, I don’t want Meursault to be convicted. Clearly the man is guilty, but for some reason I like him as a person. Regardless of the fact that he is a murderer, and that he lacks the ability to show his emotion, I believe that Camus painted him in a positive light. Meursault, to me at least, is a likeable character that has to deal with the consequences of some unfortunate events, not a killer.

Also interesting about this passage is how Meursault, not surprisingly and true to his character, has nothing to say when he is given the chance. Throughout the trial he has complained that he is not given the chance to speak for himself and that he is being treated like he isn’t there. Now that he has the chance, he has nothing to say. Why? Is there nothing that he has to say to his friends, Marie, or the people in the court? Honestly, it is a little frustrating. What did you guys think of this passage?

Matt Z! said...

I, too, would like to comment on the significance of the passage that Cynthia brought to our awareness on pages 89-90. I would like to agree with Cynthia that this is a major event in the story, because of the fact that it truly is "the first sign of true emotions" that Meursault displays. Up until this point in the novel, everything had been experienced and spoken about on behalf of Meursault with an extremely detached and apathetic tone. He not only failed to show any of his own emotions, but it seemed as if the emotions of other's didn't really register in his psyche as well.

As predicted by Melissa, the transition to the life of a captive criminal has in fact changed Meursault's character, even if only slightly. Up until now, Meursault's reaction towards emotions such as grief (the passing of his mother), anger (when his neighbor was beating his wife), and love (when Marie asked him to marry her) had always been pretty consistent. The diologue, both verbal and internal, was always peppered with phrazes such as "I didn't really care" and "It didn't really make a difference to me". The language hear used by the author is actually quite insightful, as it helps to characterize Meursault in the beginning of the story. When the author includes the word "really" in these sentences, it greatly amplifies the sense of apathy and detachment that is already present.

For example,
"I didn't care at all" sounds far more decisive and final than "I didn't really care at all."

As Cynthia quoted, Meursault states that he could actually "feel how much all these people hated [him]" while on trial for the murder of the Arab. He even stated that this perception of the animosity towards him was enough to give him the "urge to cry." Now, intense emotions are no longer alien to Meursault, as his is both acknowledging them and then reacting to them in a normal, expected way. Furthermore, in the next paragraph, the judge begins questioning the caretaker of Maman's funeral service in order to gain greater insight into the personality of Meursault. Meursault states:

"He said I hadn't wanted to see Maman, that I had smoked and slept some, and that I had had some coffee. It was then I felt a stirring go through the room and I realized that I was guilty."

What's interesting in this passage is that when Meursault says that he is "guilty", he doesn't mean it in the context of a jury and trial. He has already accepted the fact that he killed the Arab; that has already been established. The guilt that Meursault speaks of is the EMOTION guilt. He has suddenly begun to feel guilty at the way he acted during his deceased mother's vigil. This is another huge step for Meursault as a developing dynamic character.

One thing I am surprised about is how quickly and abruptly this realization was introduced into the novel. It occurs at the very end of a paragraph, inhabiting only a single sentence, and is not elaborated on by any following sentences. I would have expected such a dramatic transition to have taken up a little more room in the novel.

Mels1619 said...

Ok guys; well let me tell you how amazed I am with Meursault’s personality. The beginning of Part II was unbelievable! Meursault opens up with him being interrogated and he is still not showing any emotions. For example, he explains how “At first, [He] didn’t take him seriously” (63) which proves once again our theory that he never takes anything serious in his life. Following this, he continues to surprise me more, he mentions on page 64, “…but just in time, I remembered that I had killed a man”. How can someone forget anything like this? I am starting to believe that he might have some mental issues because forgetting that you took someone else’s life away is not an easy thing to forget.

To continue with Meursault’s personality, which is the big issue in this book. While one of the conversations Meaursault had with his lawyer, Meaursault clarifies that “[his] nature was such that physical needs often got in the way of [his] feelings”(65). He explained how at his mother’s funeral, he “was very tired and sleepy, so much so that [he] wasn’t really aware of what was going on” (65). Once again, this shocked me a lot because I would of have never expect to hear this from anybody.

A scene that I thought was interesting was when Meaursault was talking to the judge I believe? The scene involved God which I thought was great because Meaursault never really talks about him. The other man was angry for Meaursault’s lack of emotions, “I am a Christian. I ask him to forgive your sins. How can you not believe that he suffered for you? I was struck by how sincere he seemed, but I had had enough. It was getting hotter and hotter” (69). This moment, in particular, uses such imagery that the first thing that comes to my head is an exorcism. Meaursault demonstrates that he has some type of evil inside of him, and the way he said “it was getting hotter and hotter” shows guilt.

So far, the book has kept me interested. It scares me a little with the whole God/Evil subject but I enjoy reading about someone who just killed another man could feel so comfort with his life.

Matt Z! said...

Melissa, I thought that the quote you brought up regarding why Meursault behaves the way he does (his "physical needs often got in the way of [his] feelings") was excellent and insightful. I thought this quote was extremely interesting from the spiritual point of view as well, as it explained that his nature is extremely earthly to the point of neglecting the more subtle aspects of his being. I thought it showed very insightfully the true nature of Meursault, as well as setting up a comparison between the spiritual and the physical that is extremely apparent. Personally, however, I wholeheartedly expected to hear this coming from Meursault. He seems like the type of person who is deeply rooted in the physical.

That being said, I would like to comment on the deepening of the emotional reactions that are being displayed by Meursault. On page 97, he states:

"As I was leaving the courthouse on my way back to the van, I recognized for a brief momenty the smell and color of the summer evening. In the darkness of my mobile prison I could make out one by one, as if from the depths of my exhaustion, all the familiar sounds of a town I loved and of a certain time of day when I used to feel happy."

I thought this was interesting because while I was reading the beginning of the book, I didn't even get the impression that Meursault had any affection for the town in which he lived. In fact I didn't think he had affection for much of anything, other than himself of course. Perhaps if we were to go back and read the beginning of the book again, which I'm not suggesting we do at all, there would be more subtle hints at Meursault's softer side.

Mels1619 said...

Cyndi...Matt...Hi! I would like to start this post with a quote that I found extremely funny, I don't know…I might be just me but on page 72, Meaursault is describing his first day in prison and he states "The day of my arrest I was first put in a room where there were already several other prisoners, most of them Arabs. They laughed when they saw me. Then they asked me what I was in for. I said I'd killed an Arab and they were all silent." I found this quite funny, just picturing the whole scene made me laugh. But yeah, I just wanted to through it out there and see if you two wanted to laugh with me =)

Moving on, my prediction seems to be quite right and wrong at the same time. Meaursault demonstrates to be showing a bit more emotion being in prison. For example, at his trial, at moments he’d show that he cared what was happening around him. He also made a comment when Celeste was testifying; “…but it was the first time in my life I ever wanted to kiss a man” (93). Even though is kind of a creepy quote, Meaursault shows sympathy and demonstrates to be somehow grateful to Celeste for trying to help him out of this case.

As for the trial, everything is working against Meaursault. First, he created doubts at his mother’s funeral by not showing any type of affection towards the lost of his mother. Second, he wrote a nasty letter to Raymond’s girlfriend which showed how he did not respect anyone, not even women. Third, he witnessed the beating Raymond gave his girlfriend and he didn’t do anything to stop him. And now, he killed a man and still showed no emotions. Maybe everything would be some how easier for him if he at least would show the judge and the jury that he care for what was going to happen to him.

Cynthia R said...

Post: 5 Part: B

In response to Melissa’s comment about Meursault being confronted with God during the trial, I also thought of it was the man trying to save his soul. Clearly all of the men at the trial are God-fearing people and they find it hard to believe that someone would not have faith in God. Later on in the text on pages 116 and 117 the chaplain asks Meursault if he believe in God and Meursault responds by saying that he doesn’t and that he is sure of it. “He [the chaplain] then leaned back against the wall, hands flat on his thighs. Almost as if it wasn’t me he was talking to, he remarked that sometimes we think we’re sure when in fact we’re not.” After reading this passage I thought that maybe, just maybe, this would be foreshadowing a change in faith on Meursault’s part.

“‘Every man I have ever known in your position has turned to Him.’ I acknowledged that that was their right. It also meant that they must have had the time for it. As for me, I didn’t want anybody’s help, and I just didn’t have the time to interest myself in what didn’t interest me.” This passage is so frustrating and yet so true to Meursault’s character. It seems that maybe Meursault won’t change after all, as we had expected. I understand now why Matt was frustrated; Meursault is so vacant that it is almost irritating.

In response to Meli’s comment about the curt scene being funny… I guess it was a bit humorous, but not laugh-out-loud funny.

Post: 5 Part A:

Well, to be honest I was a bit disappointed as to how the story was ending. All throughout the story I read with excitement and towards the end of the story, the plot seemed to drag out. Throughout the story, the writing, the descriptions and the dialogue were all simple. Beginning in chapter 5 however, the tone took a drastic change. Suddenly Meursault was a lot more descriptive with his thoughts. He would go on for pages and pages about his reaction to being convicted, being in jail, and what it is going to be like to be hanged. I found it difficult to continue reading this part because it was repetitive in my mind. I just wanted the end to come…

And once it did I was so surprised. I knew Camus couldn’t let me down in the end. From pages 120 to 122, the narrator is so deep and thoughtful. What Meursault was saying about how things don’t really matter, had me thinking about my own life. As I read this passage, I thought about how people place so much importance and focus on the most insignificant things. At the end of the day, someone is going to die. I guess what Meursault is saying does make sense but at the same time it is a very pessimistic way of thinking. What did you guys think of this passage? I as so surprised by how deep Meursault was. It was almost as if he was saying this all in one breath; letting out everything he had every wanted to say.

Also thought provoking within this last section was the final paragraph on page 120. “Then, I don’t know why, but something inside me snapped. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me. I grabbed him by the collar of his cassock. I was pouring out on him everything that was in my heart, cries of anger and cries of joy.” This passage was amazing because we finally see Meursault lash out all of his bottled up emotions. It was so surprising and yet almost foreseen that Meursault would finally stop being so emotionless.

What did you guys think of the ending?

Mels1619 said...

So guys, let me start by agreeing with Cynthia and her opinion towards Meursault. Cynthia states how “[she] don’t want Meursault to be convicted. Clearly the man is guilty, but for some reason [she] like him as a person. Regardless of the fact that he is a murderer, and that he lacks the ability to show his emotion, [she] believe that Camus painted him in a positive light.” I agree with Cynthia 100%, Camus created Meursault’s character to appear sympathetic to the reader. Even though Meursault’s lack of emotions can be quite annoying, I still want the best for him and not to be in prison. I sort of feel bad for him.

I would like to comment on the prosecutor’s attitude. I know it’s his job to be rude and harsh on the criminal, but they were moments where I felt completely bad for Meursault. For example, on page 102, the prosecutor states “For if in the course of what has been a long career I have had occasion to call for the death penalty, never as strongly as today have I felt this painful duty made easier, lighter, clearer by the certain knowledge of a sacred imperative and by the horror I feel when I look into a man’s face and all I see is a monster”. This passage created an intense mood. It made me feel sympathetic towards Meursault but at the same time, I was amazed by the way the prosecutor spoke with so much power and confidence.

And to comment on the verdict, let me say “OH MY GOD”. I was not expecting this verdict at all. I was hoping for the jury to at least give him some time in prison but never the death penalty. And what is more amazing, is Meursault’s response to when the judge asked him if he had anything to say; a cold simple “No.” (107)

Once again, God became involve in his life. Now that he was sentenced to the death penalty, he was allowed to see a chaplain but he refused to. The true reason is not clear but I believe is because deep inside he is afraid of God and the power he has over us. Meursault always refuses to accept faith or anything that had to do with a religious subject. This gives me an idea of how he might not fear men justice but God justice.

Matt Z! said...

Once again, I find myself completely irritated by Meursault's character. The book had all the makings of a man who would eventually go through some kind of epiphany, change his ways, and get a new lease on life before he died. In this case, however, Meursault almost feigned an epiphony as he hinted at showing a more sensitive side, only to revert right back to his old ways before he died.

I was also surprised, as Melissa was, to read that he would be succumbing to the guillotine for his crime. I thought, as Cynthia did, that he would perhaps change his ways for the better and there would be some kind of purpose hidden in the tragic events of the novel. But no, instead I come to read the following paragraph on page 114:

"But everybody knows life isn't worth living. Deep down I know perfectly well that it doesn't much matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living- and for thousands of years. If fact, nothing could be clearer. Whether it was now or twenty years from now, I would still be the one dying."

This whole section of the novel, including the ending scene, was extremely irritating to me personally. I never liked the main character to begin with, but towards the end of the book I honestly wished that his death scene would come quicker so the book would end faster. Even towards the very end, when Meursault "started yelling at the top of his lungs, and. . . insult[ing the chaplain] and [telling] him not to waste his prayers on [him]," the reader is given a most severe and forceful look into a hyper-emotional Meursault. The only problem I have with this is that none of the emotions displayed are positive ones. In fact, after exploding in "rage" at the chaplain, Meursault explaines that he "opened up to a gentle indifference of the world."

I thought this was how he always acted? There's nothing new here. What I am wondering is would he be considered a static or a dynamic character? I can't tell wether the change we saw in him throughout the novel was genuine or if we were just meant to be deceived in order to show this relapse at the end of the novel.

Cynthia R said...

Post 3: Part: B

Yay! You guys have given me a lot of material to respond to. To begin I want to say thanks to Melissa for agreeing with me, but I can also where you coming from Matt. I can see how Meursault can annoy you. He seems like he would be a frustrating person to be around; not talking much, never really giving a straightforward answer, and being so indifferent to everyone and everything around him. I guess what I like is that I don’t know anyone like that. It is a completely new and blank view of the world.


Post: 3 Part: A
Going off on the idea that this story’s main character has no emotions, is a thought that I have had throughout the novel. It is interesting that Camus can keep the reader interested even though he offers little dialogue and his main character expresses very little. Camus does not include much dialogue and more importantly, he is not very descriptive when t comes to setting either. Personally, I like Camus’ writing style; it is simple and quick. I can get through the story quickly without being bogged down by complex sentences or over-descriptive passages about the environment the character is in.

Part B:
I also wanted to respond to Matt’s second blog. Two things in your blog really stood out to me. First, you mentioned a part in the book when Meursault was first directly confronted by religion. When questioned about his own beliefs Meursault admits that he agreed with whatever the persecutor was saying to him, only to get him to stop talking. Along with Melissa, I also thought that Meursault might change once in prison but as Matt pointed out, there was no change. Later on though, I believe that there will be a change in Meursault after all. If there isn’t a change, then how will Camus conclude the story?

Finally I wanted to respond to Matt’s comment, “Finally, I was wondering what you guys thought about a certain passage at the very end of Part 2, Chapter 2. Meursault says that ‘for the first time in months, [he] distinctly heard the sound of [his] own voice. . . and [he] realized that all the time [he] had been talking to [himself]." Is this a recent development? Is this the product of being alone in a jail cell for most of his time? It could also be possible that Meursault has been talking to himself ever since the beginning of the novel, and that his lack of emotion could be due to a sort of mental illness, hinted at by this passage.”


Part A:
Matt, I am glad that you pointed this passage out because I too, was very interested in it. If he had heard his voice for the first time in months, then I could only think of two possibilities: either Meursault has not talked since the trial began (because his lawyer has instructed him to do so) or Meursault has been talking to himself this whole time as Matt hinted at. It seems likely that Meursault would talk to himself, since he never talks to others. If he does have a mental illness then that would account for his lack of emotion for how calm he was when he killed a man. It is almost as if he is secluded from society: he functions normally but doesn’t interact with others normally.

As Matt also mentioned, it could be the fact that he has been in prison for a while. If that is the case, then as Melissa predicted, being in jail in changing Meursault. Maybe once he realizes what he had, he might learn to appreciate it (i.e. Marie).

Cynthia R said...

Post 1: Part B

Hello! I wanted to respond one of Matt’s original comments, “At first, I must admit that this book had me slightly confused. We are doing a "spirituality" themed book group, right? How can we "study" spirituality and philosophy while reading a book whose main character has the emotional capacity of a thimble?”

I found this question to be a very interesting one. Maybe the reason why this book is so interesting is that the character does not seem to have faith at all. One would assume that to study the theme of spirituality, one would have to read a novel about a deeply religious character. Although that would make sense, maybe the point in this novel is reading about someone who is different. In looking at life through a different set of eyes, it often becomes easier to understand one’s own spirituality better.

Personally, reading this book has made me think about why people are spiritual. Is it because they are taught to be so from a young age? Is it because something happens to them to make them have faith in a higher being? Maybe Meursault never had an exciting life. Maybe it was just plain and therefore he fault indifferent towards the idea of a higher being. There is no one to blame when things go wrong and no one to think when they go right.

Cynthia R said...

Post: 2 Part: B

Howdy!
One thing that I wanted to comment on was Matt’s comment:

“"He said I hadn't wanted to see Maman, that I had smoked and slept some, and that I had had some coffee. It was then I felt a stirring go through the room and I realized that I was guilty."

What's interesting in this passage is that when Meursault says that he is "guilty", he doesn't mean it in the context of a jury and trial. He has already accepted the fact that he killed the Arab; that has already been established. The guilt that Meursault speaks of is the EMOTION guilt. He has suddenly begun to feel guilty at the way he acted during his deceased mother's vigil. This is another huge step for Meursault as a developing dynamic character.”

Had Matt not pointed out the meaning of the word guilty, I would never have thought of it. A few times before Meursault had mentioned that he did feel guilty about his mother’s death; not guilty about having been a careless son, but about the inconvenience that the death brought. In this scene however, it seems as thought Meursault has finally realized why he felt guilty.

As Matt pointed out, it seems that maybe Meursault is developing as a character. Although he is coming to terms with what has happened, there is still a lot of change that Meursault has to go through. I doubt he will really change.

Matt Z! said...

POST CLARIFICATIONS:

Post 1:
Part B- first two paragraphs (responding to Cynthia)
Part A- the rest of the post

Post 2:
Part B- first three paragraphs (responding to Melissa)
Part A- the rest of the post

Post 3:
Part B- first two paragraphs (responding to Cynthia and Melissa)
Part A- the rest of the post

Post 4:
Part B- first paragraph (responding to Melissa)
Part A- the rest of the post

Post 5:
Part B- first three paragraphs (responding to Melissa)
Part A- the rest of the post

Cynthia R said...

Post: 4 Part:B

Hello,

I wanted to comment on Melissa’s thoughts about Meursault throughout the book. You mentioned before that you are interested by the character but that “It scares me a little with the whole God/Evil subject but I enjoy reading about someone who just killed another man could feel so comfort with his life.”

Although we have been talking about spirituality throughout this entire blog session, it seems that it in the story, the topic was only handled towards the end. There were a few comments here and there throughout the novel about Meursault not believing in God and having few emotions but not until the end was the story filled with deep ideas in regards to spirituality. I am glad that Camus wrote the story this way because I think that if he had been so philosophical throughout the entire book, then the reader might have gotten lost in it all.

Speaking about Camus’ writing, I found his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus to be very interesting. To be specific, the line that caught my eye was, “Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him?” Although this quotes was referring to the character in the Greek myth, it reminded me of Meursault. Basically I thought about how the punishment of being imprisoned, having his mother die, and losing Marie were not really punishments to Meursault because he did not care about any of them. How can you punish a man who does not care about a thing? You can’t take anything away because it will not make a difference. In that, Meursault seems hollow. He is void of a soul. (I just thought I’d mention that connection between the two texts).