tt (zitroneneis) wrote in albert_camus,

A Happy Death vs. The Stranger

I read A Happy Death after reading The Stranger, and many critics see The Stranger as a prelude to A Happy Death. However the inevitable death at the end of both novels does not come from the same source. Mersault actually wanted to die from his own realizations in A Happy Death, without too much help from society. However in The Stranger the innate “rule set” of society is what leads to his eventual death. The practice of using the death penalty against harsh crimes was accepted be society and as a result Mersault would have died whether or not he would have seen the light at the end of the novel. However in A Happy Death one could argue that Mersault died from old age or a life complete. Basically following the existential concept that the beginning of understanding life, or seeing the “light” is the wish to die. In The Stranger, this same theme is present however the situation is acutely different. Mersault basically let himself die in A Happy Death, while in The Stranger it was actually society- the guillotine- which lead to his ultimate death- even though it is obvious that he wanted to die.
So Camus basically wrote The Stranger but never actually finished the story. He had to bring the character of Mersault back to life in A Happy Death in order to show the reader his actual thought process of creating Mersault in The Stranger and why certain events happen. This actually brings me to the point of this post. In schools we read The Stranger, but only very few actually grasp the fine points of this absurd story, furthermore Camus is praised for The Stranger, but nobody ever talks about A Happy Death, which is probably the most important book to read if one really wants to fully understand The Stranger.
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