Essay on the Stranger

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In the novel the Stranger by Albert Camus, the protagonist Meursault is characterized as emotionless, uncaring, and indifferent, though he is actually an understanding, insightful man who is pleased with a simple, modest life. His lack of emotion towards the superfluous and superficial, along with his lack of judgment for other people’s choices do not make him indifferent; they in fact show how he demonstrates Albert Camus’ philosophy of Absurdism. It is through the characterization of Meursault that the greater theme of Absurdism and the absurdity of life are conveyed. Meursault is often seen as cold and impassive towards others. He is actually characterized in this detached way to personify and embody Camus’ philosophy, and his rejection of the established and predictable. One day when Meursault is spending the day with Marie, she asks him if he would marry her and he says “it didn’t make any difference” and that they “could if she wanted to” (41). Most view marriage as an important occasion with many consequences and a lifetime commitment. Meursault’s reaction to Marie’s question is honest and straight forward, and his nonchalance serves to weaken the importance of institutionalized principles. Later, Marie wonders to herself if she loves him, and Meursault says that “there is no way [he] could know that” (42), as it is not possible for Meursault to know what others feel. This implies that a person’s emotions are determined by the individual, and demonstrates the Absurdist thought that no two people can have the exact same emotions and beliefs, and therefore there can be no shared meaning concerning an emotion. When speaking with his lawyer, Meursault is asked how he felt about his mother’s death, and he says that he “would rather Maman hadn’t died” (65), which shocks his lawyer. Meursault could be perceived as cold and indifferent for not expressing more emotion towards his mother’s death, but he is simply expressing the absurdist belief that one can have...
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