The Outsider explores the experience of a person removed from the conventional human perspective. A progression of events leads to him killing an Arab who had threatened his friend. The subsequent trial leads to him being condemned as much for not crying at his mother’s funeral as for committing the murder, his crime is to not share the feelings and values of his society. This raises the question, is the purpose of the justice system and other national institutions to encourage moral behaviour and mutual cooperation between people, or just to enforce the ideas of the majority?
There doesn’t seem all that much inherently wrong with the protagonist’s way of looking at the world, in fact he often seems very honest and straightforward, only standing out because everyday life is usually so full of lies. His girlfriend is shocked at his insensitivity, not telling her he loves her after she has said it to him, in fact it seems to be this expectation that is flawed rather than his reaction. What right do you have to expect a person to love you purely on the basis that you love them? It is entirely irrational, and the protagonist is, above all else, a very rational creature. Why should we expect a person to cry at a relative’s funeral? Death isn’t in itself something to be affected by, there is no pain there, no frustration or worry, why should we mourn for the dead? And mourning for our own sakes is hardly anything to be proud of. It’s always debateable how much of our actions and the actions of the people around us are genuine, to what extent they’re just playing out roles, putting on shows for whoever happens to be around and maybe even for themselves a little. The protagonist is completely honest, everything he does and says is 100% genuine. Society can’t handle this, therefore moves to have him removed from it.