n French Studies in Southern Africa - L'énigme du destin dans de Camus

Volume 2002, Issue 31
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



This article takes up the issue of the main character's culpability with regard to his motivations in killing the Arab and revisits the conventional interpretation of the meaning of the book. In pointing to the similarities between the novel and Camus' written shortly before the first draft of , the argument draws on the mythological dimension of the novel. Considering the coded nature of the name Meursault as a sesame to the archetypal foundations of the conflict between sun and sea, the article grounds the interpretation in the symbolic manifestation of the masculine and the feminine as exemplified not only in this specific novel by Camus, but also numerous other instances in his work. The other characters involved in Meursault's life appear not as plain ordinary individuals but as "carriers" of a specific function they are geared to perform, and this function becomes an essential part of the very structure of the novel. This underlying significance eludes the narrator, and the central chapter, presenting the murder, holds the key to the enigmatic nature of the destiny which is thrust upon the main character.

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