'the Stranger' and the Absurd

1316 words 6 pages
The Stranger is heavily rooted in philosopher Albert Camus’ theory of the absurd: the notion that human life has no definable purpose, and while the pursuit of an intrinsic meaning to life and the universe holds value, it will inevitably prove futile. Meursault, Camus’ protagonist, lives his life according to these tenets, however unwittingly, and for the majority of the novel reacts only to concrete, sensory things, showing neither understanding nor interest in more abstract societal constructs. Grief, guilt, passion and morality are foreign concepts to Meursault, but it is only through the prospect of impending death that he realizes that he lives in a separate world from the rest of society, where his perceptions and beliefs about the …show more content…

My eyes were blinded behind the curtains of tears and salt. All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead… The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes. That’s when everything began to reel” (pg. 59).

Meursault literally reacts blindly, not thinking of the repercussions of his actions; murder is an abstraction, apart from the purely physical realm in which he operates.
The death of the Arab isn't particularly meaningful in and of itself; he is no more a nemesis of Meursault’s than Raymond is a friend. The murder is merely one more thing that “happens” to him. The shooting, however, is a turning point in the novel, forcing Meursault to look at his life as his trial falls apart and his impending execution nears. Only by being tried and sentenced to death is Meursault forced to acknowledge his own mortality and the responsibility he has for his own life. Reflecting on his own life, Meursault seems optimistic or even cheery for the first time, stating the inspirational idea that “a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored” (Pg. 79). Though most prison inmates would reflect on their lives with remorse or regret, Meursault doesn’t have the inclination to rehash his moral


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