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The Stranger
(Albert Camus)

Albert Camus?s The Stranger is a poignant story about an ordinary man confronted with what would be popularly deemed ?the absurd?. The story is set in a small town in Algeria where a working class man is unwittingly drawn into a murder on a local beach. The tone of voice in the story is abstract and nonchalant, as to capture the personality of the main character whose moral quality is the primary focus of the story. The opening of the book is set immediately after the death of the main character?s mother and proceeds to follow the man through the next several months, engaging the reader in this man?s haphazard and carefree approach to life. Perhaps the best aspect of this story is Camus?s writing style, which has remarkable ability to engage the reader from all levels and pull them into the story alongside the protagonist. The majority of the story is spent establishing a persona for the main character from which the reader can form his or her own opinion about, but inside every detail of this story Camus is presenting difficult questions for the reader to confront. Was it simply this man?s roguish attitude towards others that drew him into the murder, or is he a genuinely evil person, as the antagonists would have you believe? Or did the death of his mother contribute? Another prominent theme of this book is justice, and what represent true, impartial justice. This entire story questions the integrity of the judicial system, what constitutes a fair judgment, and more importantly: what is a reasonable defense for murdering another person. This is a short, concise, and very quick paced story, but one that raises important issues on the nature of the human condition, mostly the absurdity of the things people do. The difficult part, of course, is the perspective: the reader?s and Camus?s. There really is no middle ground in this story and Camus wants his audience to put themselves in the protagonist?s position and choose sides. This story is meant to shine a light to our own lives so we may acknowledge, as Camus does, the absurdity of the human institution by exploring the purposes of love, law, and ultimately, what it really means to be happy.

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