14 The Stranger

Choose one book, only one book, and name it your “favourite”. I read The Stranger so many years ago but I still remember the plot, the characters, the indifference, the weirdness of Meursault… The Arab, the trial, the trouble of being. Since the first time, I went back to this book, to read it again, to find answers for myself.

Below is one of my favourite extracts. Read it while listening to The Cure’s “Killing an Arab”. Keep in mind that neither of them are about racism (there are those who misinterpret the meaning), both are about existence.

The sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me, all the veins in it throbbing under the skin. It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward. I knew that it was stupid, that I wouldn’t get the sun off me by stepping forward. But I took a step, one step, forward. And this time, without getting up, the Arab drew his knife and held it up to me in the sun. The light shot off the steel and it was like a long flashing blade cutting at my forehead. At the same instant the sweat in my eyebrows dripped down over my eyelids all at once and covered them with a warm, thick film. My eyes were blinded by the curtain of tears and salt. All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes. That’s when everything began to reel. The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire. My whole being tensed and I squeezed my hand around the revolver. The trigger gave; I felt the smooth underside of the butt; and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the same time, is where it all started. I shook off the sweat and sun. I knew that I had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of a beach where I’d been happy. Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. and it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.


The Cure – Killing An Arab by marcuscorrea

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