Mrs. Taylor Foltz
Honors American Literature
April 8, 2014
Absurdism and Monsieur Camus
Many claims have been made that Camus, a selfproclaimed Absurdist, is in fact an Existentialist; however, this claim is contradicted by his novella, The Stranger. Throughout this novella Absurdist ideas and philosophies are found in every nook and cranny. Absurdism is the belief that our existence is in a purposeless and chaotic universe so nothing really matters.
This belief is showcased throughout The Stranger many times in many ways. Absurdism is best shown in the character
Meursault's outlook on life and reactions to events in it. He's very impulsive and never thinks of the repercussions of what
will happen before or after he does anything. The quote from the poem entitled The Hollow Men by T.S. Elliot,“This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper," precisely reflects Meurauslt's attitude in the story.
Meursault had an extremely monotone reaction to his mother's death. He's not visibly upset about it and he acts
"matter-of-factly" about it while all the procedures are being carried out. This displays absurdism on a grand scale. It is highly unusual to be so calm about the death of one's own mother. He even says that her death didn't have an effect on his life other than a few minor annoyances. He says,"It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed."(Camus,page 24) This reaction is past
emotional numbness or hiding one's own feelings to strong or save face. This reaction is absurd. It is basically Meursault saying that the loss of life, including that of his own mother, is insignificant because the world continues to go on. He even goes on to fall asleep during his mother's vigil. (Camus, page 11) In a
Literary Chart provided deep analysis of The Stranger, the observation is made that 1"As a narrator, he constantly supplies physical details without analyzing their emotional or psychological import." He's focused on non essential things when most normal people would be engulfed in agony of losing a mother. He's irritated by the weeping of one of her friends commenting that "the woman kept on crying" and that he wished he "didn't have to listen to her anymore." (Camus page 10) 2The observation is also made that "throughout the novel, Meursault
This quote is from www.LitCharts.com 2014 | Page 4: Importance of Physical Experience
quote is from www.LitCharts.com 2014 | Page 4: Importance of Physical Experience
experiences physical sensations and pains/pleasures much more acutely than he experiences emotional/psychological ones." So it is not found astonishing that Meursault is found focusing on the intensity of the sun while burying his mother. He says that on the way there "the glare from the sky was unbearable" and that the sun was one of the things that made it hard for him to "see or think straight."(Camus page 16-17) Meursault's emotional indifference in dealing with the death his mother showcases his
Much of his case of absurdism is displayed in his relationship with Marie. Much like he is with every encounter in his life, he is focused on the physical aspect of their relationship and doesn't talk to her very much. In one part of the novella,
Marie is laughing and Meursault is focused on feeling "Marie's heart beating softly" and the "blue and gold" of the sky. (Camus
page 20) He doesn't even know why she's laughing because he is not entirely focused on her or what she may have been saying.
In a latter part of the novella Marie and Meursault get on a bus, they get dressed on the beach and they don't "say anything more from that point on", they hurry "to catch a bus", and throw themselves onto the bed in Meursault's home. (Camus page 35)
They are entirely focused on their sexual feelings, inhibiting them from even