The Absurd, Chaotic World in The Stranger, by Albert Camus

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There is no meaning in the world besides the meaning we humans give to it. The world is an absurd, chaotic place in which it is up to the individual to decide what to make of it. In The Stranger, Meursault, the main character, struggles to sort out the chaos of the world and resist the pulls of society. Meursault continuously disobeys the standards of society which reminds the reader about human fidelity and social divisions. Thus, his display of human absurdity reveals how all people are all equal. The Magistrate, who visits Meursault while he is in prison, acts as a juxtaposition of Meursault’s character to prove how the individual, not society, is responsible for his own purpose in life. Throughout The Stranger, by Albert Camus, the use of diction and irony reveals how the main character’s lack of emotion, critiques of society and religion and ending epiphany are existential, all of which suggest that Camus strongly disapproved of the French presence in Algeria.
Diction illustrates how Meursault’s lack of emotion toward things that society demands emotion to make him one who determines his own life. In the beginning of the novel, when Meursault just hears of his mother’s death, he states, “For now it’s almost as if Maman weren’t dead. After the funeral, though, the case will be closed, and everything will have a more official feel to it.” (3) In French and most other societies, one of the most basic expectations is some form of grief or emotion at the hearing of their mother’s death. Meursault says that after the funeral “the case will be closed” and that it will now have “a more official feel.” Meursault is treating the death of his mother as a chore or verdict, which goes directly against what society believes he should fee...

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... purge his guilt. Thus, when man believes in a divine being as the whole reason of his existence, then when his belief is put into question, his entire existence in questioned. Thus, people are incapable of living up to their religion. The irony in this novel lies in the fact that by killing and condemning Meursault for his “insensitivity,” he his defying social constructs, because Meursault never would have been on trial is he had not killed the Arab man, which is the very thing that the French are doing to the Arabs: killing them. By condemning Meursault for his crimes, the French are actually condemning themselves. Furthermore, his epiphany that we are all equal illustrates Camus’ opposition to the French oppression over the Algerians. Only through the realization of the gentle indifference of the world will we begin to sort through the violent absurdity of life.

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