"The outsider" by Naguib Mahfouz and Albert Camus

Essay by mathakanyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2004

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"The family that prays together, stays together", a quote which I have often read on the side of my very religious uncle's van, shows how when family values are observed, the unity of the family is preserved. In troubled times, however, the family unit finds it increasingly difficult to stay together. As this process progresses, the eventual downfall of an entire society can occur because the society is simply a group of families. Through the depiction of Said's and Mersault's families, their attitudes toward other families in the novel, and their interest to forming a new family, Albert Camus and Nagiub Mahfouz, in their novels The thief and the dogs, and The outsider respectively, show how both protagonists represent the emotional sufferings and family deterioration problems of their time. Although both writers utilize different methods, both have the common goal of showing how the absence of true family values leads to larger problems in society.

The past existence of true family values is present in both novels. Said, the protagonist of The thief and the dogs, is known to have been a loving husband and father. Mahfouz utilizes several pages to describe the depth of Said's love toward Nabbawiyya, their first meeting, and their common love toward their daughter Sana. Said is also depicted to have strong emotional ties to his father and mother. The recurrence of Said's father when discussing the Sheikh shows how Said has come to view the Sheikh as a fatherly figure. Said, therefore, had once been part of a very happy family. Later on in Said's life, the family connection was cut and never again fixed. On the other hand, Mersault, the protagonist of The outsider, has very little or no attachment to his mother or father. His knowledge and thoughts...