How Does Meursault Become an Existentialist Hero? Essay

How Does Meursault Become an Existentialist Hero? Essay

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Meursault is the protagonist and narrator in Albert Camus' The Outsider, and at first notice, he is seen to be someone who is rather 'colourless', emitting a very boring and uninteresting aura. It is during his time spent in prison (convicted of a murder which wasn't cold-blooded, but rather one that was due to a chain of events) that he becomes an existentialist hero.
Right from the start of the novel, Meursault is introduced to the reader as a person that is distant. For one, he doesn't even know the day his own mother died[1]. Normally, when a close relative such as a mother dies, that person is supposed to feel grief. Meursault, however feels nothing, because when he hears of this through telegram, he is unattached. He wishes that she hadn't died, but her death doesn't make a real and lasting impact on him as he travels to the town where she was to be buried.

The only real discomfort that he feels is while on the bus, which is due to the intense heat. Meursault is once more unperturbed when he is asked by the caretaker if he wanted to see his mother's body. Meursault coolly declines this offer, much to the shock of the caretaker who doesn't seem to comprehend why a son would refuse to see his late mother's corpse, as would be the case in a normal situation.
The common formality during a funeral would be to cry, or at least show some expression of guilt. Meursault never shows this, as he ends up drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in a very relaxed manner. His calm attitude during this situation plays a major role in his conviction for murder. An example which shows that Meursault was very detached from his mother, is when Thomas Pérez attends the funeral. He is referred to as Meursault's mother's fiancée by the caretak...

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...list. He sees the world as a futile string of events which give out no reason towards existence. Death to Meursault is just plain nothingness, and he comes to understand that life is all about making choices, taking responsibility and accepting consequences. He realises that everyone simply lives out their lives through to the end - everyone dies. The only difference is how they live their lives and how they die. It is through this 'epiphany' that Meursault becomes the existentialist hero, and accepts the absurd taking over.

Works Cited

[1] Camus, Albert (1942) The Outsider, Penguin Modern Classics: England - page 9
[2] Camus, Albert (1942) The Outsider, Penguin Modern Classics: England - page 19
[3][4] Camus, Albert (1942) The Outsider, Penguin Modern Classics: England - page 44
[5] Camus, Albert (1942) The Outsider, Penguin Modern Classics: England - page 46

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