How does Camus present the notion of radical freedom with the characterization of Meursault?.
Meursault is a peculiar and curious hero in "The Outsider"," since his emancipation from an indoctrinated mentality despite its fatal consequences is both fresh and uplifting. The climactic act of murder demonstrates precisely how Meursault's absurdist disposition frees him from being bound by conventional views, even that of common morality, since his choice to murder the nameless Arab is wholly disconnected from any imposed system of ethical value. Yet, we are unable to perceive this radical freedom without the context of Meursault's environment, since we realize his crime is not the result of immorality, but of impulse, which later develops into his rejection of moral concepts entirely. We are moreover unaware of Meursault's extraordinary individuality without those bound by social norms to pose stark contrast with. Hence, Camus presents the protagonist's radical freedom and individuality by the use of contrast with other characters in the novel, creating an authentic character relative to orthodox society.
The emotional peculiarities of Meursault are first demonstrated in his reactions at his mother's funeral. In the famous opening line "Mother died today. Maybe yesterday, I don't know " (Camus 4), Meursault's unconventionality is immediately shown through his laconism and refusal to act the part of the grieving son as expected by those around him. The simple sentence structure conveys brevity in matters of great emotional depth, further reflecting how Meursault's dispassionate nature extends towards his disregard for human relationships. While grief is a heavy and debilitating emotion, the convention remains that one shows an emotional response to the death of a loved one and this typical response is represented by the character of Thomas Perez, "fainting (like a dislocated dummy) " (Camus 12) at the funeral.