The manner in which any author sets the stage for his story forms the basis upon which the literary value his work may be measured. Camus suggests a philosophy that is distant from the religious belief and common man concepts of morality. Sentience and individual integrity are at the heart of a content and accountable life.
Merusault the narrator in the novel The Stranger tells the story from a rather detached and unemotional tone the revolutionary concerns of the post war period of apparent random violence devoid of strings of morality amidst the glare of the irrational world. Even so he still maintains a sense of touch with the object of nature and reality despite the absurdity of the human condition.
Even more compelling is the protagonist attitude attached to the monologue that persists to the end of the novel with simplistic narrative style. The novel projects death as inevitable and arbitrary and in effect life is therefore only relevant to the present and its demands and no more. He makes an emphatic entrance to into the story with a significant sense of resignation associated to the lack of ambition at work as well as the indifference in the personal and interpersonal relationships he participates in (Camus 1970)
The plague on the other hand is rooted to the bubonic plague that hit the Algerian city of Oran. Owing to the illiteracy and ignorance linked to the narrator’s day and age, the members of society are slow to realize this potential mortal danger. When the strokes of reality finally come down on them they are faced with a need to strategize on what measures to undertake to curb its effects. The obvious response is one of panic coupled with fear and compassion for the affected and infected (Forsdick 118–130).
This state of affairs does nothing to one citizen of Oran who unlike all others had lived a life of fear and hiding from the police who put a bull’s eye on his back. To him the arrival of the plague is a window of opportunity away from his lonely life of fear and into a new community of fear.
He makes good of the plague by exploiting the community by being a smuggler which brought him a live worth of fortune. Sooner than later the community realizes that the epidemic would only be solved if they all put aside self interest and come together with a common objective of eliminating the plague. This sense of rebirth of society into unification survives even after the passing of the plague (Ignace 606- 21).
The two stories present an ideal platform for the analysis of Contrasting attitudes of the individual and community. To put this to perspective several attributes will form the subject of interrogation
Goals and objectives of the community
The diversity presented by the community and the different participants in the various social divides presents a simplistic but aggressive sense of selfishness and individualism. It is typical of any social setting to put self interest before the society’s interest. The societal unity is therefore a vehicle of convenience that the members create in times when these interests depend on each other for successful utility. The objective of a community like the individual is self preservation by all means.
Community means an assembly of common interests that are motivated by constant reaction and interaction between its participants. In effect Communities may entail trust, communication, involvement and membership. In a strict sense it means that the participants should do more than attend or appear in the community. They are under an obligation to undertake an amount of sacrifice which sometimes demands a large amount of motivation brevity and pro-activeness.
Such was the character portrayed by characters like Enjolras. Often the community entrusts its management to a political regime which occasionally or in its entirety may be oppressive. The French government enacted suctions and policies that were offensive to the community. Sometimes the community in its self is oppressive since the first objective is self preservation. The community will therefore be willing to group up and segregate on the basis of differing ideology.
Role of religion
The relevance of religion to the individual may differ from that of society. The concept of civil obedience is not merely financed by the threat of sanction. It is to a great extent based on a moral sense of belief. Religion feeds this perception and keeps alive the need to maintain a socially accepted standard of morals in society. It provides a guideline for this standard and criticizes disobedience.
The compromise here is that the Community is less moral than an individual. This is based on the precept that the individual forms the community and not the other way round. As it were the community will be willing to may help others who cannot help themselves.
This kind of aid streams from the Power of Community in influencing Individual behavior as well as the allegiance of the individual to the community. In the absence of this loyalty the community will not hesitate to dispose of the individual as was evident in the A ghetto is a community of like minds
Society has a capacity to define what should and should not be done. Depending on the type of community its principles and objects they will attract various rewards and punishment for obedience and disobedience respectively. Criminal gangs are in a strict sense communities and like all others they have their basic standards and requirements.
The community will therefore undertake to inform its participants of the limits of their freedoms and the essence of the leadership. The concept of community is to develop a tool for constant motivation and hope for objectivity in life. It therefore benefits from the diversity that accrues to this Communitment or even so communication.
The chronology with which the ideas and perspectives of the community in connection to the society and in contrast to the individual are presented in the two books build on the authors campaign for the abstract approach to life and community. It is common ground that the community is the individual but the individual is not always the community.
Camus, Albert. Lyrical and Critical Essays. The Plague and The Stranger. New York. Vintage Books. ed (1970)
Forsdick, Charles. Camus and Sartre: the old quarrel. In Edward J. Hughes. The Cambridge Companion to Camus. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (2007). pp. 118–130
Ignace, Feuerlicht. Camus’s L’Etranger Reconsidered. PMLA. Vol. 78, 1963, pp. 606- 21