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Albert Camus’s The Stranger: Living Without Purpose

Powerful Essays
How does a person really live when they feel there is no meaning in life and that the thought of seeking any value is absurd? Albert Camus’s novel “The Stranger” focuses on Meursault, a man who lives for the yearnings of the present moment and completely free of any values. Moreover, “Meursault refuses to conform to a social code that, in his mind, demands an excess of false words” (Taylor). Rather than behave with the social standards, Meursault tries to live as honestly as he can, doing what he wants to do and befriending those whom he likes. He also refuses to give off feelings that he does not truly feel. Consequently, he does not force himself to cry at his mother’s funeral or to mourn her death too deeply. Shortly after Meursault’s mother’s death he finds himself in jail after the murder of an Arab man. Meursault realizes he wants to live with the certainties of this life even if that means confronting death. Through plot, character, narration, and symbolism Camus illustrates that life has no meaning or purpose.
Camus uses Meursault’s feelings toward society and the world to illustrate that life has no meaning or purpose. Towards the end of the novel Meursault is beginning to realize he has similarities with the world he feels, “ As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself- so like a brother really” (Camus 122). Meursault is put into “blind rage” after the Chaplain meets with him and insists on his acceptance of God. Meursault finally accepts the absurdist beliefs. He realizes that the world’s indifference to human matters is similar to his own indifference to...

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...ll continue to be” (David 57). No matter how different a person is from everyone acceptance is the first step to happiness.

Works Cited

Burt, Daniel S. "The Stranger." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1946. Print.
David, Carroll. “ Rethinking the Absurd: Le Mythe de Sisyphe.” The Cambridge Companion to Camus. Edward Hughes. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 53-62. Print.
Lewis, R. W. B. "Albert Camus's Style and Critique of Tragedy." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Camus' The Outsider." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.
Sollars, Michael D. "The Stranger." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
Taylor, Karen L. "The Stranger." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
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