The Stranger Essay

Submitted By blakemcpherson1993
Words: 1222
Pages: 5

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault appears to be completely alienated from the world around him. Events and situations most people would describe as significant or traumatizing seem to have little effect on him. His personality, emotions, and indifference to the world may be explained by his awareness of his fate. Meursault simplifies his fate to a commonality all humans share: one is born, one lives, and then one ceases to exist with nothing left of him or her. He does not believe there is a God and mentions that it does not matter how people live their lives since no one can escape their fate. Meursault’s mentality towards fate is similar towards the outlook Albert Camus has on Sisyphus’s fate in The Myth of Sisyphus. Although Meursault’s fate is different from Sisyphus’ in the sense that Meursault cannot avoid death and Sisyphus will exist for eternity conducting useless labor, they are the same in the sense that both Meursault and Sisyphus accept the fact they cannot do anything to change their fates. It is the acceptance of his fate that causes Meursault’s friends, the lawyers, and the chaplain to think of him as detached from society and even amoral. But is it this same acceptance of fate that allows Meursault to be truly happy once he reflects on the certainties in his life while isolated inside prison. From the beginning of The Stranger, Meursault displays emotional detachment from those around him. He does not cry at his mother’s funeral, has sex and is willing to marry Marie without displaying or mentioning any sentimental feelings for her, writes a cruel letter for Raymond’s mistress after Raymond physically assaults her only because Raymond asks him to, and then later shoots the mistress’ brother multiple times without remorse, leading to Meursault’s imprisonment. These events, besides Meursault’s willingness to marry Marie, cause the prosecutor to claim Meursault is a threat to society when the prosecutor states, “[Meursault] didn’t have a soul and that nothing human, not one of the moral principles that govern men’s hearts, was within [his] reach” (Camus, 101). The perception the prosecutor has for Meursault gives the impression that he thinks Meursault is empty, incapable of human emotion, and commits this crime because he is a evil. But the prosecutor is wrong. Meursault commits this crime and performed the acts previously mentioned because of his acceptance of his fate. He is not an evil or emotionless human and begins to show genuine happiness once he reflects on his life and his fate. To elaborate on Meursault's mentality towards fate, one must examine him after he is sentenced and put in prison. When the chaplain goes to see Meursault, he asks Meursault if he believes in God and says, “do you really live with the thought that when you die, you die, and nothing remains?” (Camus, 117). Meursault responds by saying he does not believe in God and that it is unimportant and he does live with that thought. Meursault states, “What did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we’re all elected by the same fate” (Camus, 121). This statement shows Meursault does not think the way people behave or what they believe should have any sort of affect on his life, since he absolutely knows what fate all mankind shares. He thinks to himself about his appeal being rejected and says, “Deep down I knew perfectly well that it doesn’t much matter whether you die at thirty or seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living. . . In fact, nothing could be clearer. . . . Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter” (Camus, 114). Meursault later states, “[The chaplain] wasn’t even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man. Whereas it looked as if I was the one who’d come up empty handed. But I was sure about me, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at…