Priest And Chaplain

The characters of the chaplain, in Albert Camus’ The Outsider,
and the priest, in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, are quite similar, and are
pivotal to the development of the novel. These characters serve
essentialy to bring the question of God and religion to probe the
existentialist aspects of it, in novels completely devoid of religious
context.
The main idea visible about these two characters is that they
are both the last ones seen by the protagonists, Mearsault and K., both
non-believers in the word of the lord. Whereas the chaplain in The
Outsider tries to make Mearsault believe in the existence of god, the
priest tries to warn and explain to K. what will happen to him.
The reason the chaplain is the last one to see Mearsault is
becasue it’s his job to let the prisioners have a final shot at
redemption before they are executed. The reason that K. meets with the
priest is out of advice given to him by someone, and he is the last
character that he shows K. interacting with (although it might be true
that K. meets and interacts with other people after the meeting, but
they are neither mentioned nor visible later on). The priest doesn’t try
and make K. confess or anything of the sort, he is mainly there to
converse with the character, his religious position is almost put to no
use.
The existentialist view of religion is that humans have been
alienated from god, from each other, and so forth. In the novel Crime
and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the christian idea of salvation
through suffering is omnipresent throughout the novel. What is visible
with The Trial and The Outsider is that they don’t touch on the aspect
of religion much throughout the story (The Outsider has bits and pieces
of it appearing in his cross examinations but they are used more to mock
than in an analitical sense). The presence of these two characters at
the end of the novel serves to cover all the existentialist areas known
to existemtialists (although it is doubtful whether the authors
consciously attempted to make the character’s present because of any
existentialist rules they had to follow).
The characters are required to structure the novels, beside the
obvious existentialist areas. The characters are there to let the
protagonist’s blow off some steam. In all the beaurocracy, confusion,
and incompetence these two remain as the only ones that understand the
predicament of the protaganists. They actually seem to understand what
the protagonists are going through. The priest is more direct, yet
symbolic, with K., telling him a story laden with symbolism and telling
him what he’s about to go through. The chaplain tries to take advantage
of what he understands about Mearsault, and take control of his ideas in
his final moments.

Category: English