Sand, Sun, Sea, and Sky: Alliteration, Repetition, and the Theme of Existential Choice in Camus’ "The Stranger"

By Robert C. Hauhart.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 22, 2016 $US5.00

Camus’ most well-known work, "L’etranger," has been subjected to extensive literary analysis. Most commentators and critics have focused their attention on Meursault, Camus’ protagonist, and addressed the alienated nature of his character. Some critics have gone so far as to suggest that Meursault is not merely an anti-hero but the fictional embodiment of a thoroughly hollow modern man. Less attention has been paid to the literary techniques that Camus employed to depict Meursault’s story. In particular, little attention has been directed toward the sequence of alliterative images that track Meursault’s existential journey from detached everyman to condemned murderer in the Ward translation to English. A careful reading of the text shows that Camus uses images of sand, sun, sea, and sky to signify important phases in Meursault’s passive drift away from existential choice and toward his final acquiescence and surrender to the vicissitudes of what Camus has created to first appear as an irrational and absurd universe. In the end it is apparent that it is Meursault’s absurd choices—and not the earthly reality of sand, sun, sea, and sky—that makes his life absurd.

Keywords: Literary Techniques, Existential Choice, Literary Criticism

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 14, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.7-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 22, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 559.781KB)).

Robert C. Hauhart

Professor, Department of Society and Social Justice, Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington, USA