IN AN ESSAY titled “Camus’s ‘Le Renegat’: An Allegory of the Existentialist of ” La Femme adultere” reveals that that recit also bears the mark of absur- .. Stirling, Elwyn F. “Albert Camus’s Adulterous Woman: A Consent to Dissolution. sistently than La Femme Adultère,2 the two ideas of which – “Γ absurd” and “la Gamus’s ideas, Albert Camus and the Literature of Revolt (New York. ). Albert Camus’s Adulterous Woman: A Consent to Dissolution. Elwyn F. Sterling. Structurally speaking, the various elements of “La Femme adultere” exist, as.
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And there is a third sense of exile, biographically specific to Camus, whose life was stricken when his homeland, Algeria, rose up in revolt against French colonialism and the untroubled paradise of his boyhood memories ceased to exist, becoming instead a site of murder and camue, which it was now very dangerous to return to.
He found himself exiled from this childhood. The woman is Janine, tall, middle-aged but still alluring. She married short, bug-eyed Marcel, not so much because she was attracted to him, but because he so obviously needed her. His love made her real.
That was 25 years ago, when Marcel was an ambitious law student. When his parents gave up their dry goods business, Marcel decided to abandon the law in order to run it. Then the war came with its privations. Soon their joy rides in the car stopped, the outings to the seaside ceased. Marcel became obsessed by the business.
They had no children. Her life became entombed in the shuttered apartment above the shop. They get to a town and Janine tags along after Marcel as he tries to sell his wares to Arab merchants. They end up going up onto the parapet of the local fort and looking adulters over the cold stony desert.
They go to bed, Marcel falls asleep. But Janine is tormented by the lost years and the vanished opportunities.
She sneaks out of bed along the hotel corridor, and then runs through the dark streets back to the fort and up the stairs to the parapet where she looks up into the billions of stars in the freezing black sky and has an epiphany. What with the lying prone and the moans it would be easy to interpret this as some kind of sexual experience. And the title — the adulterous woman — suggests that she is being sexually unfaithful somehow.
In the last few sentences Janine retraces her steps to the cheap hotel, slips back into bed beside Marcel, who wakes up to find her weeping inconsolably. Camus had a kind of gift for making cajus he wrote seem pregnant with meaning, with allegory or symbolism. But the obvious level of meaning is, here, also the most powerful. It is a story about loss — lost time, lost life, lost love, the loss which is somehow central to life. He was a not very bright student at a theological seminary.
He came out to Algeria to preach the Word of God. The narrator is imprisoned in this pitch black hut made of salt and mud and fed on grain thrown onto the floor, while defecating in a hole he gouges.
He is reduced to a condition of complete animality. On one occasion a native woman enters and apparently offers herself to him sexually, adulterr he is beginning to act on when the Sorcerer and other tribesmen enter, beat him up and then tear out his tongue, making him pass out with pain.
The Adulterous Woman – Wikipedia
He comes round to find his bloody mouth stuffed with grass. As his brutal treatment continues the narrator makes the transition to becoming the willing slave of the Fetish, a wordless devotee of the tribe and its god. He heard, from his prison inside the House of the Fetish, French voices, apparently two army officers explaining that they are going to garrison twenty men outside the village to guarantee the safety of a Christian missionary who is on his way. The slave narrator decides to escape the House of the Fetish and kill the missionary.
He wants to spark feemme incident, to get the French to retaliate against the tribe in order to cause a Holy Efmme, and in his fantasies prompt the tribe to invade and conquer Europe overthrowing the wretched God which he now curses and despises. How pleasant is the sound of a rifle butt on the face of goodness…. But the tribe has noticed his absence and come looking for him, and start to beat him up. I choose a psychological interpretation.
I think it is Camus letting off steam in what amounts to a really long cry of agony. They are silent because these men, the handful who work at a small cask-manufacturing workshop in a city on the coast, had gone out on strike for twenty days but then, eventually, been forced back to work for the usual reasons — the need for money, the refusal of the boss to back down.
And so they file one by one into the knackered old workshop and, in silence, start up the old routines of work. The scent of burning shavings began to fill the shop. Through the broad windows a clean, fresh light began to fill the shed. Lassalle, tries to be friendly with his workers but they all resolutely silent. I grew up in a village shop and gas station, working in the shop from age 11, working on the pumps from age 16 and then working in the dark, oily, noisy tyre bay, handling the long heavy wheel jacks and the pneumatic bolt remover to undo the bolts holding a wheel to the car axle, alongside other lads swapping banter, walking past the Pirelli calendar on the wall, washing your hands in the tub of swarfega, sitting outside sharing a fag in the sun between jobs.
Once the stave was ripped, you could hear only the sound of the motor. There is a story of sorts, more an incident. He dashes off to fetch an ambulance, which arrives soon after. At the end of the day the owner returns to the workshop to say a very pale and listless goodbye. And so the story contains two kinds of silent men, or men who are silent in two ways. Yvars cycles home, admiring the darkening sea. He is 40 now, married to Fernande and they have a school-age son.
The Adulterous Woman
He wishes he was 20 again and could go swimming in the warm sea. Daru is schoolteacher in a really remote part of southern Algeria, atop a barren plateau. This year has seen an appalling drought, with Daru becoming a distribution point for government food aid. Now it has suddenly and unexpectedly snowed, in the middle of October.
They greet Daru who welcomes them inside. Now the Arab is docile, edgy, silent. Nonetheless, Balducci makes Daru sign a document accepting responsibility, then leaves, first giving Daru his spare revolver. There follows an uneasy night. Daru behaves decently if gruffly. The Arab appears puzzled by this kindness but, after some hesitation, eats. Then Daru makes up two camp beds in the schoolroom, but lies there awake.
In the middle of the night there is the promise of some excitement when Daru becomes aware that the Arab is getting up, with infinite slowness and stealth. He pretends to be asleep and watches the Arab, in the event, quietly leave the schoolroom.
Daru breathes a long sigh of relief thinking his onerous responsibility is over. Except that a few moments later the Arab returns. He had gone to the loo.
After this act of not attacking him or escaping, Daru is able to fall asleep. Next morning he makes them both breakfast and then orders the Arab to get dressed and follow him.
He leads him some way south of the school building but then stops the Arab and hands him a package of food and 1, French Francs. Darus is not going to take him anywhere. Instead Daru shows the Arab two alternative routes: Then he shows the track heading east.
Daru turns and heads back towards the school.
After a little way he turns and looks and sees the Arab still standing in the same spot. Closer to the school he turns again and at first can see no-one in either direction.
Then, straining his eyes, he realises he can make out the figure of the Arab amid the vast stony waste of the desert. He is on the path east to Tinguit, presumably to hand himself in.
Is this a comment on the docility, the lack of independent-mindedness, the village stupidity of the Arab?
Or his sense of honour? Or his reluctance to hand himself over to the nomads? But not to his former life. That is gone for good. For on the blackboard he finds a simple sentence has been scrawled, presumably by Algerian rebels: You will pay for this.
He thought he had given the Arab albery freedom to choose his destiny. Looks like he was wrong on all counts. The setting is bleak and elemental. The prose is pared down and simple. It is factual, descriptive, minimal, and yet pregnant with meaning. From time to time the horse stumbled. Contemporary readers had no difficulty reading it as a comment on the by now three a,bert Algerian War which started in Daru is caught between two worlds.
Not part of metropolitan French culture, but not part of the native Arab world. The French authorities try to drag him into the conflict. He refuses to take part, insists on treating the Arab decently, adulterf even gives him his freedom to decide his fate.
Although this could also be interpreted as trying to shirk his responsibilities. But, either way, his fine intentions are turned to czmus by the last-page promise of revenge. He is caught up in the conflict whether he wants to or not, regardless of what he does. Anyway, the existentialist focuses on the image of a man alone in the vast desert, abandoned by Alvert etc, thrown back on himself.