Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This Seat's Taken: AP Lit, January 24, 2013

Focus: Working through larger thematic questions and statements in The Stranger

1. Announcements!

2. Warm-up: Agree, disagree, unsure

3. Final Socratic Seminar: The Ending of The Stranger

1. Bring a laptop to class tomorrow (if you have one or can borrow one from a really, really nice person).

2. Try to finish your critical review books by Monday or Tuesday of next week so that you can start drafting.


  1. Socratic Seminar January 24th, 2013
    • To what extent can religion save a man from the absurdity life? Is it possible to find meaning from religion so near to death?
    • Death protecting from life v life protecting from death. Which does religion fufill?
    • Mersault is not helped by religion at the end
    • Mersault has no desire to find the meaning of life – emotionless throughout
    • Anger with the chaplain – only genuine moment.
    • Mersault favors logic over emotion, does not need God, values being right over staying alive or anything else
    • How can you be right if nothing holds meaning? He crafts meaning by justifying his actions. He values only his own meaning. He is selfish
    • He sticks with what he believes in. Cannot be persuaded from his beliefs by anyone or anything
    • Ne never acknowledges any meaning. He feels that he is a step ahead by his indifference. IN the end nothing matters and so he understands more than others.
    • He is a threat because he detaches himself from others. Society cannot relate to him and therefore sees him as a threat. He has no ability to understand his or anyone else’s emotions.
    • He likes being seen as a threat. He does not believe that getting involved with religion because he doesn’t want to be seen as a hero, but go out with a bang, indifferent to the desires of society.
    • Who came out on top? Mersault triumphed over society or did they win by getting rid of him? He is vindicated in his meaningless death. He only wishes for more people to hate him – reassured by hatred that he is right
    • Contrast between court scene when he feels severe sadness when he realizes that others hate him to right before his death when he wishes the hate of others on himself.
    • Tale of Two Cities – finally realizes that he is happy in the complete opposite way of Mersault
    • He ironically finds peace despite his seemingly terrible circumstances
    • He has his final say at the end of his life. A last stand. He died for a reason, or lack thereof.

  2. • He had an opportunity to speak out. Isn’t sure how to vocalize his feelings or thoughts.
    • He doesn’t have anything to say. He lacks opinion and emotion. He is not genuine in his final moments of emotion. He is trying to be what he wants to be or wishes he was.
    • He has come to terms with his own happiness. He does not want to be remembered or to be responsible for others’ emotions.
    • He has a persona created for him and that is the thing he wants others to hate. When others hate him he has an easier time getting deeper into lows and to connect on a spiritual level.
    • Last section exemplifies him as an outsider. Lawyer replaces Mersault. He is happy in his unlikely circumstance when on his way to his execution.
    • Outsider perfectly describes Mersault at the end of the book. But do they really know him well enough for him to be defined as an outsider. “greeted by cries of hate” – must be an outsider to elicit such contempt.
    • How well does one need to be known to be an outsider? Fundamental for others to only know a portion of the truth about him.
    • His fate defines him as an outsider. It is easier to hate something you know you’re going to lose. Guillotine is not what others fantasize it to be. Why does he focus on the guillotine? Crucifixion is similar because both of these deaths are completely humbling. There is no glory in his death. If you have to walk up the stairs to your death, you are honorable for bringing yourself to it instead of being brought to it.
    • Relates it to shooting the Arab. He imagines approaching his death as he did approaching the man he killed. He does not consider another man anything more than an object like a guillotine.
    • Mersault’s way of thinking gets in his way. He is tortured by the belief that life is meaningless. The symbol of his removed head emphasizes the final escape from his own mind. There is a desire for the machine to work, for his death to be successful.
    • Chance of survival – reflects the absurdity of dealing with one’s fate without one hundred percent certainty
    • He is always looking for one definite answer.
    • He is a machine himself because he doesn’t connect with anything or anyone.
    • Neither Stranger nor Outsider is a good definition of the narrator
    • Is life meaningless? “No, because we are here.”
    • He denies religion like he denies relationships.
    • Why does Camus make it so hard for Mersault to accept his death?
    • Do people truly miss those who die? Book answered this for Mersault but not for everyone. So what is Camus purpose in writing?
    • Stranger because he understands that others can feel, but his reality is different
    • He cares just not on an emotional level
    • Camus finished the book how Mersault thinks and believes it should. It doesn’t matter in the end.
    • Is Mersault dealing with a greater psychological disorder? Reflected by his passive voice and the sun’s power over him
    • Death is our least authentic moment because every man converts to every religion to cover their bases. You lose everything in death.
    • “The guillotine is like moral collaboration” – Emily’s favorite line
    • He tries to see Marie’s face to find meaning despite the fact that he only takes advantage of her throughout the book
    • “Everybody knows life isn’t worth living” – sees this as a fact not a belief
    • Camus takes advantage of the fact that we will put meaning behind all of the confusing details
    • Mersault focused on physical feeling throughout and so he loses nothing when he loses his head