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The Anti-Christ in Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)

The Anti-Christ in The Outsider

“Meursault is punished, not for his crime of killing another human being but for refusing to play the game.” This statement is of great relevance to the novel The Outsider, by Albert Camus. Society as a whole enforces its ideas and values, upon all individuals, but particularly on those who differ from the “norm”. Through Meursault’s view of the world, contrasted with that of both the religious and judicial system this notion is foregrounded.

Meursault’s outlook on death and dying is very different to that of the majority of people at the time. He was unemotional and indifferent to the death of his mother, something that was unfathomable and by no means acceptable. “…I didn’t know if I could smoke in front of mother. I thought it over and decided it didn’t really matter.” This is a classic train of thought for Meursault, he believes that when you are dead, then you really are dead, so smoking or not smoking will make no difference to the deceased. “I probably loved my mother my mother quite a lot, but that didn’t mean anything.” He accepts his mother is dead, and that his love means nothing to her, in fact, nothing means anything to her. These ideas were deplorable according to his societies standards and Euro-centric value system. “He said that I hadn’t wanted to see mother; that I’d smoked, I’d slept and I’d had some white coffee. And I felt something stirring up the whole room; for the first time I realised I was guilty.” This quote is a key aspect of the foundation philosophy in the novel. Meursault realises, at that moment, that he is on trial for killing a man, but he will be found culpable of the charge not for killing a human being but for the simple reason that he did not play …

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… hearts when I knew nothing of the most basic human reactions.” This is a quote by the Public Prosecutor, both a religious and lawful man. Through Meursault’s expression of ideas and feelings, he is clearly capable of emotion and human instinct, yet because he does not abide by the rules he is condemned by a society, which fears him, for his difference. Meursault refuses to believe in God, he refuses to succumb to the dominant ideology of his time, he refuses to play the game and for this he is punished.

Meursault was brought to trial for killing another human being, yet he was convicted and punished for refusing to “play the game.” He did not adhere to the rules nor did he try to change himself to better fit the world in which he lived. As the magistrate said, and essentially, in societies eyes he was “Mr. Antichrist” and for this he was condemned to death.

Property as Feminist Dynamic in Welty’s Delta Wedding

Property as Feminist Dynamic in Welty’s Delta Wedding

In our traditionally patriarchal society, primogeniture is the norm for inheritance of property. For anyone other than a first-born son to inherit the family estate is unusual. Even more unusual is inheritance by women, who in many localities were forbidden from owning property. Thus, the pattern of inheritance which Robbie notes in Delta Wedding is a significant departure from cultural norms. Eudora Welty depicts a domestic politic which represents a feminist dynamic departing from, yet not entirely escaping, patriarchy.

On the surface, women occupy a dominant role in the domestic politics of the novel. Robbie testifies to several ways in which this is true. First, in the Fairchild family “the women always ruled the roost” (190). Robbie represents the attitudes of traditional patriarchy by asserting that this is not the proper order of things. She “believed in her soul that men should rule the roost” (190). This appears to be an inverted power structure, in which the women are the dominant party rather than behaving submissively toward their men. Indeed “it was notoriously the women of the Fairchilds who… ran the household and had everything at their fingertips- not the men” (190). The Delta seems to be a woman’s world which men inhabit at the beneficence of women. Another example of the inversion of patriarchy is the pattern of inheritance. Not only do women as a norm inherit the property, if this rule is violated “their brothers, guiltily, handed it over” (190). Robbie states that “in the Delta, the land belonged to the women- they only let the men have it” (190). She goes on to enumerate three generations of property transfers which prove her observati…

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…so as to be all gracious and noble” (191). Thus, even their subversion of patriarchy fits into its mold.

The Fairchild women in one sense play in a different game of domestic politics than their contemporaries. They begin and end the game as mistresses of their own domains. They possess great power and are able to use it to their advantage. However, they do not successfully change the structures of patriarchy. Their power is exacted from, derivative of and implicitly supportive of male dominance. While they possess the trappings of matriarchy, men still exert considerable power. The Fairchild women successfully usurp many of the benefits of patriarchy through a bartering of roles, chores and property which affords them autonomy if not genuine equality. If patriarchy is a prison, these women have made their cell into a palace in which they are free to be women.

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