Gide's own life during his earlier years was spent in conflict between trying to live up to socially acceptable behavior and his desire to have the freedom to experience every possible thing that attracted him. As he grew older and more impervious to public opinion (or perhaps simply more aware of the weight of mortality) he felt that internal conflict become less and less difficult to negotiate, arguing that freedom from convention is what makes life essentially worthwhile. This is a fundamentally less radical view of freedom than the one that Sartre recognizes as existing within each of us.
The central incident of The Stranger - the murder that is so very different from the murder of Amedee in Les Caves du Vatican was based on a real event in which a friend of Camus had an argument with a group of Arabs that led to knives and guns being drawn but only rather minimal injuries. Camus himself was involved in the argument, but not the fight; but it made a lifelong impression on him as he tried to understand how it could come about that individuals were so little engaged in the reality of the world, so little determined to experience what the world had to offer, that they should come to care so little about violence or pain or even life (Korkos 51).
There is a wonderful insidiousness in the opening pages of the book - which have a distinctly Kafka-esque quality to them - as Roquentin describes the first symptoms of the disease that will lead to a sort of a cure for his life.
INEZ: But, you crazy creature, what do you think you're doing? You know quite well I'm dead.
I don't think the historian's trade is much given to psychological analysis. In our work we have to do only with sentiments in the whole to which we give generic titles such as Ambition and Interest. And yet if I had even a shadow of self-knowledge, I could put it to good use nową.
And indeed, Roquentin (although sometimes slightly annoying) is in general a very compelling character, and we fee