I bet that there are many classes that study this book. Probably not an entire class since the book is only 89 pages long. It is not easy to organize my thoughts about this book. I will try though. Although it is a very short book it is chock full of things to make a person think. Which makes sense since the author was a philosopher. I believe that he is the first Nobel Prize winning author that I have ever read. Sad, I know. I am working on my range of literature though.
So my thoughts. I’ll try to stay in order of how they came about in the book.
In the beginning and what I didn’t understand at the time, what set the tone for most of the ending, he was at his mother’s funeral. And while how he acted at this occasion gets picked on viciously at the end, I am certain that most people behave this way. In fact, his behavior didn’t surprise me at all. Why he was expected to show public displays of distress? I don’t know. Was he expected to be anything less than cordial with the people that he met there? Was he supposed to enjoy himself and have lively conversations? Why does everyone assume that he should have loved his mother? Maybe she was a horrible person. Not everybody loves their mother. And in which case he could have behaved much worse than just emotionally vacant.
Something noteworthy about the main characters personality was that he let matters of the weather affect his mood more than anything else. Which explains why the sun made him shoot a man. I think he would have been smarter to just take a swim. He was at the beach after all. The only thing in the world that he seemed to care about, or gave him any real happiness was his girlfriend Marie. I don’t understand why she stayed with him, since like I said he is emotionally vacant.
This book really only started to get interesting after he shot the guy though. His conversations with the Magistrate were hysterical. And his self-inflections while in jail were very interesting. One particular thing that was amusing to me was that it took him months to realize that he was talking to himself. I find similarities to myself in that. Seeing as how I talk to myself all the time and don’t always realize that I’m not just thinking it. Let’s blame that on the holes. It sounds more sane that way. 🙂
I also really liked when he verbally attacked the priest at the end. After he was sentenced to death they wouldn’t leave him alone about visiting with a priest. So when the priest finally just comes in un-announced and un-invited what did he expect but to be berated? Why should he all the sudden start carrying about religion just because they said he should?
So in the end you don’t know if he got his appeal, or if he was beheaded. All you know if that he finally found happiness. Or better still, he realized that he had always been happy. In the end what more can we ask for. After that it doesn’t even really matter what happened to him.
All in all I think that it was a good read. A very thought provoking read. In the beginning I really thought that this review would go a totally different route. But I am glad that it turned out the way it did. What a surprise. My advice for future readers is to hold on. Don’t let the beginning discourage you. It is worth it to finish this one.