The Present & Future
In the novel “The Stranger” by Camus the author suggest that the main character and speaker, Mersault, enjoys the present and physical aspects of life but when confronted by the future aspects of life Mersault does not show any interest in it but when Mersault is sentenced to he is then forced to think of his future. After having read the novel, readers may describe Mersault as a man about the flesh, meaning he so consumed by his physical desires that he does not care or think of the future desires. Mersault's bad decision-making and down fall maybe is maybe the result of his lack of interest in these aspects of life. The novel would have probably been ended much differently if Mersault were thinking about his future or even the people around him who actually cared for him. This could be why Mersault is a stranger in relation to people in society.
In the passage when Marie and Mersault take a swim together, Camus creates a scene where you can see what occupies Mersaults thoughts. Mersault says, "Then Marie swam over to me and pressed herself against me in the water...our brown bodies felt good (Camus, 34).” During the whole passage Mersault describes his physical feelings for Marie but he never anything else besides that. Readers can assume that to Mersault Marie is just a girl to have physical relationship with, he does not think of the future they could or may have together. So Mersault is just thinking of Marie in the present.
Marie wants to take her and Mersault’s relationship to another level. Mersualt says, “…A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so (35).” Marie asking this question tells the readers that she was thinking of a future, obviously with Mersault, but the thought is not mutual. Mersault at this point is only physically attracted to her. Mersault is fond of her but again he’s only attracted to her body and looks.
The passage with the priest visiting Mersault is a very important one because the priest uses figurative language and tries to get Mersault to think his furture. "Every stone here sweats with suffering, I know that. I have never looked at them without a feeling of anguish. But deep in my heart I know that the most wretched among have seen a divine face emerge from their darkness. That is the face you are asked to see (118-119)”. The priest is not talk of an actual stone he is talking about the prisoners who suffer in the captivity. When the priest mentions a divine face to understand what face he is talking about you have to know the meaning of divine. The priest could be talking of God or Jesus or an angle because divine means heavenly, celestial.
Mersault’s response to this is, “ I had been looking at the stones in these walls for months. There wasn’t anything or anyone in the world I knew better. Maybe at one time, way back, I had searched for a face in them. But the face I was looking for was as bright the sun and the flame of desire—and it belonged to Marie. I had searched for it in vain. Now it was all over. And in any case, I’d never seen anything emerge from any sweating stones (119).” The priest is unsuccessful in trying to get his point across to Mersault, but you can’t blame Mersault, he’s not interested in religion. Mersault does think of Marie, a girl who he seemed to have only physical feeling for, as his divine face though.
The Priest says, “Do you really love this earth as much as that” says the priest “...He wanted to talk to me about God again, but I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I had only a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God (119).” and Mersault does not answer this question. Because he realizes the direction the priest is trying to get the conversation to go in Mersault starts to get annoyed and a little bit angered. Mersault’s life on earth is about to end and the priest is trying to get him to think of his future and he doesn’t want to. Mersault wants to live for the moment and he doesn’t want to spend the last with the priest.
Mersault flaw is not thinking of his future before he makes major decisions. If Mersault asked what will happen if I do this before he did it this would be different. Mersault neglects his future befriends someone he hardly knows, Raymond, and when he shots a man who he doesn’t for him. His judgment is the result of his neglect.