In The Stranger, Albert Camusportrays Meursault, the book's narrator and main character,as aloof, detached, and unemotional. He does not thinkmuch about events or their consequences, nor does heexpress much feeling in relationships or during emotionaltimes. He displays an impassiveness throughout the book inhis reactions to the people and events described in the book.After his mother's death he sheds no tears; seems to showno emotions. He displays limited feelings for his girlfriend,Marie Cardona, and shows no remorse at all for killing anArab. His reactions to life and to people distances him fromhis emotions, positive or negative, and from intimaterelationships with others, thus he is called by the book's title,"the stranger".
While this behavior can be seen as a negativetrait, there is a young woman who seems to want to have arelationship with Meursault and a neighbor who wantsfriendship. He seems content to be indifferent, possiblyprotected from pain by his indifference. Meursault rarelyshows any feeling when in situations which would, for mostpeople, elicit strong emotions. Throughout the vigil, watchingover his mother's dead body, and at her funeral, he nevercries.
He is, further, depicted enjoying a cup of coffee withmilk during the vigil, and having a smoke with a caretaker atthe nursing home in which his mother died. The followingday, after his mother's funeral, he goes to the beach andmeets a former colleague named Marie Cardona. Theyswim, go to a movie, and then spend the night together.Later in their relationship, Marie asks Meursault if he wantsto marry her.
He responds that it doesn't matter to him, andif she wants to get married, he would agree. She then askshim if he loves her. To that question he responds that heprobably doesn't, and explains that marriage really isn't sucha serious thing and doesn't require love. This reaction is fairlytypical of Meursault as portrayed in the book.
He appearsto be casual and indifferent about life events. Nothing seemsto be very significant to him. Later on in the book, after hekills an Arab, not once does he show any remorse or guiltfor what he did. Did he really feel nothing? Camus seems toindicate that Meursault is almost oblivious and totallyunruffled and untouched by events and people around him.He is unwilling to lie, during his trial, about killing the Arab.His reluctance to get involved in defending himself results ina verdict of death by guillotine.
Had Meursault beenengaged in his defense, explaining his actions, he might havebeen set free. Meursault's unresponsive behavior, distantfrom any apparent emotions, is probably reinforced by thedespair which he sees open and feeling individualsexperience. He observes, for example, Raymond cheated onand hurt by a girlfriend, and sees his other neighbor,Salamano, very depressed when he loses a dear companion,his dog. Meursault's.