Within the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus’ symbolism of the heat or weather is heavily used as a literary device; the reader sees this literary device used as they read about how the heat and weather can control a man to do impulsive and absurd acts.
Meursault, the novel’s anti-hero, and narrator kills an Arab during a walk on the beach. He states during his prosecution that the sun was the reasoning behind his act of murder. The reader can go back and look at the end of part one in chapter six; where the heat of the sun is described as sweltering, making it difficult for Meursault to keep his consciousness and continue on. As his annoyance towards the heat continues to grow, the sun gets hotter; leading to a foreshadowing of his encounter with the Arab. Due to his lack of consciousness, when he saw the Arab’s knife flashing in the sunlight he pulled out his gun and shot him. Shooting him four more times afterwards, realising the absurdity of his act and that no matter how many shots is put into the Arab, he will be trialled for murder. One could describe the sun’s heat as another character, due to the large impact it has on Meursault’s emotions and actions. Meursault even states how everytime the heat pressed down on him, he could feel its hot breath strike his face.
The heat of the sun cause’s Meursault to act irrational and be out of touch with his surroundings. During the day of Maman’s funeral, everything around Meursault seems of a blur. He recounts events that happened vaguely in a long list; later stating he was joyful to be back home and to go to bed. The heat and glare of the sun distracted him to the point where he could not concentrate on anything other than his misery and discomfort. The strong impact of the weather during the funeral is again brought up during Meursault’s walk on the beach. He states that both heats have caused his forehead to hurt and his veins to throbs under his skin. Although Meursault never asked to see the body of his mother, he did state that he wondered how the heat and humidity would affect a decaying body. Later, on trial for murder, Meursault is bothered by the heat once again. The packed room of reporters, jurors, and spectators messes with his concentration to formulate any appropriate responses to the prosecutor’s questions. His lack of concentration greatly affected his outcome, due him seeming more apathetic and dispassionate than his truly was.
Meursault’s indifference to the world is equal to the sun’s heat towards humans. Meursault is an honest man who doesn’t see any reason to follow the social norm, and if by doing that he hurts other’s he doesn’t see why he should care. Such as how the sun doesn’t care about humans physical or psychological comfort, which is seen with Meursault during the killing on the beach, his trial for murder, and on the day of Meursault’s mother’s funeral. The sun is a greater power towards Meursault since it has largely affected him, even with their similarities to indifference.
In the novella The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka the tone can be described as somber or neutral; as the reader reads the story they feel empathetic towards Gregor, but also confused at how Gregor approaches his situation.
Kafka begins the novella with Gregor discovering that he has been turned into an insect. The reader naturally is surprised by the straightforward text to Gregor’s situation and how he reacts. Instead of being terrified and panicking to learn of what had happened, he is neutral and calm; worrying more about being late to work and how his family will get by if he is called off. It is the strange reaction that adds the element of absurdity to the novella. Obviously, being transformed into a bug is absurd but one would think that the transition would be frightening.In the first part of the novella Gregor does not seem fazed by his transition; pleading to his family and co-worker that he is perfectly fine. His family is appalled learning of what had happened and as Gregor tries to catch up, on his tiny legs, to his runaway co-worker, where he then realizes the truth of his situation. Gregor is a hideous insect to the outside world, so confining himself in his room seems as if it’s the only option. Once he gets pushed back into his room, he is automatically a prisoner. Which would be a direct parallel to his previous life, where he worked a job he did not enjoy and only worried about his family who did not appreciate him.
A constant somber or gloomy tone in the novella would be the weather. The weather adds to the audience’s empathetic feeling towards Gregor; Kafka describes it as if it was a barren waste, where grey sky and grey earth mingled inseparably. The audience is able to correlate the weather to Gregor’s loneliness and isolation. Later in the novella, when Gregor passes away the weather is described with a warm sun and an optimistic view of life. Gregor’s family say him as a burden so when he passed they felt as if they were free, and tone of the story shifted.The somber tone can also be attributed to Kafka and his own personal life, except seen in an absurd fantasy way. Scholars have looked at the transformation of a bug as if it is the change of one’s self due to mental illness. One could say, due to reading about Kafka’s life and knowing the time of when he was alive, that Kafka suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety. Those mental illnesses could have easily been contributed to the novella due to Kafka’s understanding of his mental state, at the time.
The tone in The Metamorphosis contributes to the meaning of the whole by how the reader can become engrossed in the novella. Gregor’s isolation, due to him becoming an insect, has the reader sympathizing with him. The reader is able to relate to Gregor’s isolation, where at one time they had felt isolated or depressed.