The Stranger Essay

Submitted By happydee03
Words: 1446
Pages: 6

Emma Cerovich
Mrs. Cooper
Albert Camus and Existentialism It’s weird to be different in this world. We are told in society to “be unique” and “be yourself”, but can you be too weird? In Albert Camus’ book The Stranger, several ideologies that are introduced do not conform to the world. Camus was an existentialist—he believed that life was meaningless and that we are here solely to exist. Feelings and emotions are inhibitors to living a good life, because they ultimately don’t matter. The themes that Camus highlighted show what he believed and how he felt about optimism, free will, and the purpose of life. Through all of these he intertwined the meaning of life and the thought of a higher being. Camus portrayed his first theme, optimism, by the mood and words of Meursault. Meursault’s blunt observations and lifeless plot have a negative tone through the whole book, but at the end he resolves that he is happy, and he was happy all along. “So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her. And I felt ready to live it again too…I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.” (pg 122) Camus is inserting that existentialists, in all their blunt monotony, actually are happy. He demonstrates that existentialists seem to be melancholy, but they find their happiness in just existing and finding pleasure in tactile things. Meursault found his hope in beginning again, just like the myth of Sisyphus and how he found new hope time after time. But Meursault talked in a shallow way, just getting to the substantial and concrete facts. It was noticeable how he emphasized the smells, the sounds, and the way things felt physically. In his relationship with Marie he always described the way things felt sensually. He went into full detail of how the heat and the sun affected him. But he never told the readers how he felt about Maman’s death, or what he thought of Marie’s proposal to marriage, or why he killed a man. He seemed to evade all emotion and deep thoughts; maybe because he didn’t want to feel the emotional hurt. He had no opinions on anything, and yet, he claimed he was happy. Maybe Camus was saying that existentialists find true happiness in sensory pleasures, and since they don’t delve into their emotions, they are actually happier than those who acknowledge all of their feelings. Camus’ second point of an existentialist’s viewpoint was fate versus free will. After Meursault gets arrested and the readers really see his thought process, Camus introduces the themes that he is trying to pinpoint. Meursault’s murdering of the Arab is a pivotal point in the monotony of the book. The murder of the Arab was meaningless—Meursault indolently shot without thinking of the consequences; later, in his prison cell, he reflected on this. He felt that it was free will that brought him to where he ended up; it was not fate that had landed him in the dismal situation. He never felt the regret of a murderer, questioned why he had ended up like this, or pleaded to God to change his outcome. “But when I really thought it through, nothing was going to allow me such a luxury. Everything was against it; I would just be caught up in the machinery again.”(pg 109) Meursault didn’t want to get caught up in the machinery of fate; in this case, the justice system. He believed it was his choice what happened to him. But when he couldn’t change his verdict or escape death. He sullenly accepted his demise, and, telling himself he was happy, continued to find every mean of sensory pleasure he could find, like sleeping. What he didn’t understand was that even though he thought he was just passing through the “machinery” of the justice system, he wasn’t just going to pass through the justice system of God. The chaplain tried to convince him that there was…