The Outsider, written by Albert Camus, and The Trial, written by Franz Kafka, are two books that have been critically acclaimed since the time that they were published. There are critics that claim that The Outsider is a dull book, and is not even a read-worthy book. Other people claim that it shows us how society actually acts upon people who do not want to be like the rest of society. The Trial falls under the same kind of criticism; but both books, although written by different writers in a different poque, fall under the same kind of genre: Imprisoned Lives. In both The Outsider and The Trial there are many people who influence the protagonists in a positive and in a negative way, but none of those characters are as important as the priest. The priest, being of the same profession in both books and trying to accomplish the same kind of tasks, have a totally different effect on the two protagonists. In The Outsider the priest changes the whole attitude that Meursault has to life, whereas in The Trial the priest tells Joseph K. how his life actually is.
“Why do you refuse to see me?” This question was asked by the priest and was meant for Meursault. Normally, if a person is convicted to death, he will see a priest before the sentence is executed. Meursault did not do that. He profusely refused to see the priest and why should he? He “did not believe in god.” Meursault did not care, as he did not care if his mother died, or if someone proposed marriage to him. This of course went totally against the rules and ethics of society, which cannot permit such kind of behaviour. But why does Cams characterize Meursault like that? Why did he create such kind of an outsider to society? Cams created such an outsider because he wanted to show people how life actually is. Society does not accept people who do not bend the truth a little and lie. Society wants to make life as easy as can be, making up lies so that everything can run smoothly because truth can hurt sometimes, and Cams knows that. Cams implements the priest not just as another character in the novel, but as a person who wants to tell Meursault how society expects him to behave. Meursault did not want to know how he has to act to make the society happy, as a matter of fact, the priest was “beginning to annoy” him. Meursault was not even following what the priest said but rather gazed out of the cell into the sky.
Cams wants to show us actually how uninterested Meursault is in the priest. But all this is about to change because Cams adds an unexpected twist. The priest mentions how even the hardest of criminals stare at something at one point in their life and imagine a divine face in it. Meursault did not see the face of Jesus Christ in it, but he saw the face of Marie, the girl who proposed the marriage to him. But this was the turning life in Meursaults life. All of a sudden he starts to care about things and take some interest in things, and that explains the outrage he suddenly got against the priest. Meursault knows that he his going to die, and he cannot accept that. His whole attitude all of a sudden changed. Cams shows us that a person cannot go against society and that society and the majority, be it good or bad, will always win.
Kafkas priest however was different. He did not tell to change Joseph K.s life but rather told Joseph K. how his life is and how unjust society actually is. The setting that Kafka creates is pretty phenomenal. The cathedral is dark and gloomy, only lighted by some oil lamps which have a small illumination radius. “It is a rainy day”, which gives it an even more sad and depressing feeling. As time passes by, the inside of the cathedral gets darker and darker, which creates a sort of evil foreshadowing of what will happen at the end of the book. Then the priest comes to the altar, which is humorous because there will be no sermon right now. It is rainy, a weekday and nobody showed up at the church. But that is the illusion Kafka wants to create. The priest is not there to preach, he is there to talk to Joseph K. During the talk the priest has with Joseph K., Kafka uses the analogy with the doorman.
But why did Kafka use this? Kafka used this analogy because he wanted to show us how unjust and corrupt the court and justice system actually is. Yes, the government states that the law is there so everybody can benefit from it; “justice is there for everybody” and that anybody can access it with no difficulty. But later Kafka writes that everything is accessible to man, except the law. “The law is closed to him”, which means there will be no justice because the law cannot be accessed, and without the law there cannot be any justice. Through this scene Kafka also foreshadows that Joseph K. has been played the fool, and that the court is actually unjust and that he was convicted unjustly. Now, Joseph K. did not know this. He thought that everything was well, and that his appeal has already been processed and that he would be free in a few days. But that is why Kafka put in the priest, so that he can clarify to Joseph K. how and in what situation the life of Joseph K. actually stands.
Both books make profound impact on the readers; some reject the novels and regard them as absolute trash because they do not want to accept that society actually is how the two authors, Albert Camus and Franz Kafka, portray them to be. They both carry a lot of hidden messages and meanings and how the authors actually feel about the society they live in. They criticize society because the society is corrupt and unjust, and that is what the authors wanted us readers to find out ourselves because one person alone cannot make any changes. It has to be many persons, perhaps even a whole society. Many critics have criticized these books, trying to bring down their popularity because they themselves have been a part of the corrupt and unjust society and they do not want to admit that they belong to one of these societies. These books portray the truth of what kind of world we live in today and that we should think about ourselves and what our ethics in life actually are.