“The prosecutor who [is] leafing through a file [ask Marie] bluntly when [Meursault and Marie’s] liaison begun. She [mentions] the date. The prosecutor [remarks] indifferently that it [appears] to be the day after mother’s death11. ” We assume that Meursault experiences many stimulating physical sensations when “[Marie comes] back to [his] place12” that day. Many spectators may view Meursault as a person who is indifferent to everything, in actuality, he is very in tune with his physical feelings and has a specific moral code in which he lives by.
His physical sensations are the result of his actions. An example is when he kills the Arab; the heat from the sun causes him to pull the trigger of the gun. “All I could feel were the cymbals the sun was clashing against my forehand… the sea swept ashore a great breath of fire…. My whole being went tense and I tightened my grip on the gun. The trigger gave… 13” Even though Meursault kills the Arab, he is still a hero because the reader is always made aware of the reason of his choice. He is a man who believes in only telling the complete truth.
He does not match his words and feelings to simply meet the expectations of others. Meursault is so far removed from the typical human conditions of life that he has his own system in which he values and abides by. Every human’s action becomes justifiable when the person is able to wholly understand them; this is what Meursault is able to do. He sees no reason to pretend that he feels guilty for killing the Arab in court or pretend to grieve for his dead mother, because in his world, he does not need a reason to justify his actions.
He is condemned to death merely because the world does not understand him. As a result, we sympathize for him and recognize him as a tragic hero. Although we might assume that Meursault is indifferent to his own death, he accepts it because he knows that in the end, everyone dies. His relentless insistence on telling the absolute truth is the reason that he is condemned to death, and is what he dies representing. He dies as a hero by rebelling against the order of society.
Thus in the end, Meursault realizes his victory and states his last wish: “For the final consummation and for me to feel less lonely, my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred. 14” He hopes that his death would make the people who he lives among angry at him, for rejecting the rules by which they themselves have to obey. Camus integrates his idea of heroism in The Outsider through Meursault, where the hero is a man who is relentless in giving up his way of life to satisfy others even if it means dying for it.
The two protagonists, Gregor and Meursault, become heroes through people’s belief that they are indifferent. The perception that they are indifferent is only based on people’s ideas of what is considered acceptable behavior and emotional response towards a certain events. Gregor did not die from indifference to life, but as an act of sacrifice that would allow his family to continue with their lives happily. Both his deaths are essential to revitalize the spirits of the Samsa family, his willingness to place his family ahead of himself makes him a hero.
Meursault, on the other hand, is a tragic hero condemned to death because no one understands his values. People’s acuity on the traits of the protagonists in The Metamorphosis and The Outsiders make them valiant. Jane Kwong English A1 HL June 2003 Word Count: 1487 World Literature Assignment #1: Perceived Indifference of Gregor and Mersault, in The Metamorphosis and The Outsider, makes them heroic. 1 The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition — hero 2 The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition — indifferent
3 The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition — indifferent 4 Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. A Bantam Classic. pg. 17 5 Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. A Bantam Classic. pg. 54 6 Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. A Bantam Classic. pg. 52 7 Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. A Bantam Classic. pg. 54 8 Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. A Bantam Classic. pg. 58 9 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 1 10 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 21 11 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 90 12 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 24 13 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 60 14 The Outsider, Albert Camus. Penguin. pg. 117.