Isolation is a complete separation from others due to absurd behavior or actions. In both The Guest and The Stranger the main characters Meursault and Daru become isolated in society; in turn both characters differ from society’s expectations and as a result they become isolated. Camus uses the isolation of the main characters in order to illustrate that society is judgmental and isolates people who differ from the norm; and follow that isolation with severe consequences. This suggests that society views outsiders as a threat to society’s order; due to this society separates themselves from people who do not follow the pre-determined rules they have.
Camus’s isolation of the characters depicts just how society reacts when someone differs from the norm. Camus utilizes society’s legal system as an example of how society isolates an individual. Camus uses the judgmental state of society and its legal system to illustrate how Meursault becomes condemned for not acting with the norm. At his mother’s funeral he does not cry; instead he “has some coffee” and “had a smoke and slept some” (Stranger 90). By not “crying” he’s condemned and persecuted Society uses this abnormal behavior in order to portray him as an unloving criminal and a “stranger” in society. Because of this society isolates him by labeling him as different and judging him with little facts to so on. Society does not judge him based on his crime; rather they judge him based on his lack of sensitivity and emotion toward his mother’s desk.
At the trial the judge, who is a symbol for society during the trial wants to “conduct [the trial] in an impartial manner the proceedings of which he would consider objectively” (Stranger 86). However the Judge or Society differs from this claim and instead of thinking objectively they condemn him for his past actions, such as his relationship with Raymond. By doing this Camus demonstrates that even society’s legal system is judgmental and does not follow the rules they set in place. The court isolates him by doing nothing but condemning him. Even the witness testimonies that are to help him become swayed into something that condemns his actions. As a result he becomes isolated even further to the point where he feels that “everyone was looking at me” (Stranger 85). Illustrating just how isolated he feels throughout his trial. He is alone during this time even his girlfriend Marie’s taken away from him by society. Society’s legal system takes her away from him and as a result he is left alone isolated in a cell. The physical attention that he craves and desires is taken away and because of this he has nothing to hold on to in his isolated world. By doing this the legal system condemns him even without trying him. That is why through society’s justice they can isolate and judge a person without any consequences.
Daru and Meursault differ because Meursault becomes isolated over time while Daru is already isolated. In The Guest society becomes cruel by placing Daru in an uncomfortable situation and expecting him to follow the rules they set in place. Daru was born in one place of comfort and “everywhere else, he felt exiled” (Guest 304). The feeling of “exile” demonstrates how when Daru is put under pressure to sway away from his norm he becomes exiled. Balducci, the symbol for society and its government in this story, gives Daru a “job” to deliver the Arab to jail. However when Daru feels it’s “not [his] job” Daru becomes exiled. Society expects its members to follow order and do what they say. However when Daru refuses he is judged and seen as a resistor to society’s power. Balducci, a committed member to society, “was told to hand [the Arab] over to you and return without a delay” (Guest 306). This suggests that Balducci does what he is told, he is given “orders” and feels obligated to fulfill them (Guest 306).
Conveying that he is easily influenced and follows society’s wishes and as a result he is not isolated. Drau is told to take the Arab to the city; however Daru’s refusal to do so is him rejecting society’s orders. Balducci and Daru know that the Arab “killed his cousin”; however Daru feels it is important to know if “he is against us “but Balducci “doesn’t think so, But you can never be sure” (Guest 306). Balducci seems to not care either way; he knows he is a murderer and he’s judged without any background or detail. This illustrates that society has a pre-determined judgment based on you background no matter who you are. However Daru, who is separate from society, cares about the Arabs background. However in the end Drau is still judged by another group in society, the Arabs. He is judged and persecuted because he gave the captured Arab a chance. He is warned “you will pay for this” in reference to “hand[ing] over our brother (Guest 314). This illustrates that no matter what you do if you are “alone” in society and judgment will be passed on you no matter what you do or say. Even if the isolated character believes it is acceptable to them.
The result of Daru’s isolation leads to the revelation that society is cruel to all who disobeys it; Society strives to keep its order intact. Since Daru is a threat to that order he faces multiple consequences. Daru stays firm to what he believes and as a result feels “alone” in the “vast landscape he … loved so much” (Guest 314). As a result of Daru’s isolation he feels “alone” and this is one of the many consequences one faces because he rejected society’s order. Daru is reprimanded by the Arab’s brothers for “hand[ing] over [the Arab]”; because of this Daru becomes not only separated from society but also another group who is isolated; again enforcing he is truly “alone” (Guest 314). On a strange level Daru connects with the Arab as he has a “heavy heart” when he “walks away” (Guest 314). Daru’s connection and interaction with the Arab is considered a sin and he must “pay” as a result (Guest 314). This again enforces the idea that society does not like people who are isolated to have much connection if any with people who keep order in place.
Meursault is placed in a similar situation as Daru in that he faces similar consequences to that of Daru. Meursault’s crime of murder is a threat to society’s order; so society makes it a point to punish him for all he has done to upset society’s balance. Although he is on trial for murder society judges him for all of his actions; this is because he is an outsider and a “stranger”. A result of his different actions he is persecuted for his entire life not just the crime at hand. This is one of the consequences he faces; because he is different he is judged based on all he has done. Society gives Daru many consequences for all that he has done. Not only is he sent to death for murder but he is also sent to death because he did not “cry” (Stranger 90). He did not react like a normal person in society would to a death. He differed from society’s norm and as a result society perceived him as a threat. Not only because he killed somebody but also because he did not stay quiet like the robot women. He stepped out and did what he wanted to do; and when society sees this they make it a point to remove these types of people from their balanced society.
Society’s mission is to remove those who endanger their order and balance. For Meursault and Daru they are both viewed as threats to this order. For Meursault it takes his trial in order for him to finally see the “the gentle indifference of the world” (Stranger 97). It requires him to see society in action in court before he realizes that to a certain extent society does not care what you do unless you upset their balance. For Daru the consequences he faces either way on his decision about the Arab show him you cannot win either way when you differ from the norm. Unfortunately for both characters they upset the balance society maintains because of their persistence to follow their own paths.