The author Albert Camus emphasizes the idea that in order to achieve complete happiness one must suffer. In the novel The Stranger, Albert Camus wants the audience to comprehend that there is never a positive without a negative; they go hand and hand. Camus uses both long and short sentence structures in order to convey both struggle and happiness.
In this novel the main character, Meursault, undergoes many difficult times in his life. He grows up without a father; his mother dies and he is sentenced to death for murder. Meursault having an imperceptive attitude causes him to disregard all these happenings in his life. It takes a bit of time before Meursault realizes how much he has suffered throughout his life. Meursault comes to this realization when he is on his way back to prison after his trial. Camus’ word choice and structure of long sentences and Merusault’s list of memorabilia during his ride to prison aids the reader to understand how quickly he is going through all of this in his mind. He mentions in the van on the way to prison that he “recognized for a brief moment the smell and color of the summer evening” (97). Meursault is now recognizing all that he does not have “in the darkness of my mobile prison” (97). With the knowledge that he will be put to death Meursault is in deep agony, he knows he is truly suffering because he remembers the times when he “used to feel happy” (97). He goes through a list of different things he does not have anymore including, “birds in the square, the shouts of the sandwich sellers, the screech of the streetcars turning sharply through the upper town” (97). With the quickness of Meursault’s language it causes the reader to realize how nervous he is, giving him an anxious yet sad position. All these things he never paid attention to before are now being noticed, on his way to his main place of agony; his cellblock.
Meursault then transfers into his stage of realization. He understands that he will not have what he used to take advantage of before being convicted. It is now clear to Meursault that he is locked in this cell; Meursault goes “back to his cell that he went to wait for the next day” (97). He thinks about what he has to endure while in his jail cell, while recognizing the realness of his future suffering and soon death. Meursault wishes that prison would be “familiar paths traced in summer skies could lead as easily to prison as to the sleep of the innocent” (97). All the aspects of free life that Meursault does not have cause him to begin his true stage of agony. He now has to live with the fact that he is living in prison and it now becomes real to him. Meursault’s distraught tone in this passage conveys his sadness and acceptance of being in prison.
Camus also conveys the opposite of the previous passage in many different ways. Unlike the previous passage, Meursault grasps the importance and value of true happiness. After the death of his mother Meursault has no idea as to why people mourn for her. He realizes his mother concluded her life happily and “Maman must have felt free” (122). After all his suffering he feels “ready to live it all again too” (122). He wants to live it all again because he understands how to be happy and wants to feel the affects of happiness once more before his death. Meursault has a revelation about his mother’s life and is conveyed in a great way by his tone of excitement.
Meursault’s tone changes and is enthusiastic after his revelation. He decides to open himself “to the gentle indifference of the world”(122). With this he is now open to worldly emotions he now sees himself like a “brother, really” (123). Meursault assures the reader that he really feels like a brother. Camus wants to emphasize Meursault’s change by using clarifying language and his choice of punctuation aids in this as well. Meursault then goes on to say, “I had felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again” (123). Meursault’s indifference as to why his mother wanted to die happy has now changed into assurance. It takes Meursault a while to fully understand the impact of happiness after he undergoes an abundance of suffering.
Camus wants the reader to comprehend that in order to truly understand the value of happiness one must suffer. Meursault endures pain and sadness. After undergoing all these trying times, before he is executed Meursault is happy and gains the ability to feel the side effects of happiness and dies happily.