In life human beings certainly crave and develop the need to make social contacts with other beings in the society. Relationships therefore form an integral part of life despite age , sex and nationality but this is not the case with the two main characters that are presented in the novels The Outsider by Albert Camus and ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskid. Meursault in the ‘Outsider’ and Grenouille in ‘Perfume’ do not in any way demonstrate the normal crave or even the need to establish a relationship or healthy social contacts with any body. Grenouille is never at any one instance found to have established any social relationship with any one or demonstrate significance or need to have any hence he is psychologically and emotionally detached from the society.
In the character of Meursault a relationship was not in any way a necessity or priority. Meursault just like Grenouille is also very psychologically detached from society and the world that surrounds him. He demonstrates a lot of emotional and psychological indifference to other characters such as his lover and also his mother. Events that are significant to the society such as death of parents or marriage proposals are not of any interest to him on a sentimental level. He does not demonstrate any care for his mother’s death or the fact that Marie is in love with him. He does not make any attempts to hide his lack of outward grief as he doesn’t even shed a tear over the death of his mothers (Camus, 2006). Meursault’s indifference implicitly challenges the moral that are socially accepted which require one to at least have some remorse over death. His lack of outward grief and atheism makes the society consider him an outsider, a monster and a threat.
Both Grenouille and Meursault are considered as outsiders due to their lack of care towards neither their murder victims nor the way they kill them. When Meursault unintentionally finds himself involved in the dispute between Raymond and his mistress and Arab her brother, Meursault ends up killing Arab without any motivation and even puts the blame on the weather. He demonstrates no regrets and simply just accepts that he killed Arab. He does not even try to defend himself during his trial he only says that ‘it was because of the sun (Camus, 2006).’ Just like Meursault, Grenouille demonstrates no care for the many innocent girls that he kills in pursuit of a scent. The only thing he simply seems to care about is ‘capturing a scent (Suskind, 2006)’ that she had once experienced in a certain girl who she had ended up killing and this lead him to murder many others since it is the only way to get close to capture these scents.
Both Grenouille and Mersault cannot be considered as either moral or even immoral. They are rather seems amoral as they does not seem to recognize ant distinction between good and evil in their cognition. For Mersault, this is best demonstrated when Raymond requests him to write a letter that will help torment his Raymond’s mistress. Mersault indifferently and outrightly agrees since he ‘does not see any reason not to(Camus, 2006).’ Judgment to him is of no value when it comes to his actions and hence only writes the letter since he is capable and has the time to write this letter. For, Grenouille he does not seem to recognize any wrong in killing as to him it is the only way that she can get close to capturing their scents (Suskind, 2006). He does not realize that he is killing innocent girls as his mind has no knowledge for morals. This lack of morality which is part of human life makes people see both characters as outsiders in regard to the abnormality of their personality which lacks knowledge on morals.
In both books the main characters start by being separated from their mothers which culminates and can be symbolically interpreted to isolation from the society with the society as their mother. Mersault had a chance to grow in the care of a mother but he sent her to an elderly home to reside with other people of her age rather that with him. His lack of concern to the death of her mother
Right from the onset of the novel, Mersault indifference appears to solely apply to his self understanding. Apart from his atheism, he seems to have developed assumptions in regard to the nature of the world that surrounds him. However his thinking seems to broaden when he is sentenced to death for murder. His encounter with the chaplain makes him draw the conclusion that the universe which treats human life with a lot of indifference is just like him (Camus, 2006). He therefore decides that human life bears neither importance nor meaning and human actions, their coming and their going do not affect the world in any way and hence any one who does not have any respect for humanity is considered an outcast in the society.
For Grenouille his life since the onset of the novel is bizarre since any one whom he comes into contact with especially those who try to use him end up dead. This can be probably linked to his strange personality which develops as he grows in his crave for scents which leads him to kill. He comes out as a character who is cursed. Madame Gaillard who unlike Grenouille lacked the sense of smell who raises him after the death of his mother overworks him almost to death and later sells him to Grimal the tanner (Suskind, 2006). Ironically she later dies a miserable death despite having saved a lot of money for a proper death and a befitting funeral. Instead she is not buried but thrown with a heap of other bodies. Baldini, who exploits Grenouille out of his talent in smells which is unique also dies an unfortunate death after Grenouille abandons him. This is after the bridge that holds his house collapses in circumstances that are very bizarre. This is characteristic of how any one who uses him in any way and hence since these deaths are very mysterious the society saw him as an outcast.