The Stranger questions the death penalty

Michelle Stoddart, Guest Contributor

Why do we kill people that kill people to prove that killing people is wrong? The death penalty is a common punishment for first-degree murder. Some consider it to be a fair punishment, however, through the eyes of a doomed man, things can be taken differently. Albert Camus explores this uncharted territory in his Nobel Prize winning novel, “The Stranger.”

The novel is set in Algeria in the 1940s. The novel begins with a man, Meursalt, seemingly unaffected by his mother’s death. It then goes into his everyday life, until one day he takes a trip with some of his friends and his girlfriend. That day, he gets into a brawl with a group of men. One of these men, he ends up shooting four times.  As he is found guilty, and determined to be put to death, he awaits his sad fate in prison. As he spends each painstaking day in prison awaiting what could be his death, he explores man’s mortality. As he comes to term with his doom, he begins to imagine his death in extreme detail.

Each of Camus’ carefully chosen words evokes emotion, not sympathy for Meursalt, causing the reader to think deeply about the crime committed and the grave punishment. Also, the man is a true stranger to society, exemplified by the fact that he does not feel emotions as others would.

Henry Ward’s is not the first translation of Camus’ text, which was first written in French. However, this translation helps maintain the traditional text while still putting it into English. For instance, in both of the previous translations, his mother, whom Meursalt refered to as Maman (which means mom or mother in English) was translated to mother, however Ward left her name as Maman, which showed Meursalts attempt at intimacy with his mother.

“The Stranger” is an unbelievable classic. It evokes thought and emotion as no other novel. Each precise scene and word adds so much to the novel. This novel is a thought-evoking classic that causes the reader to try to find the answer to many of life’s existential questions.