IB English 3
The Absurd In The Stranger
Absurdism by definition is the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless universe. In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Camus includes his philosophy of the Absurd through his protagonist Meursault. He uses Meursault’s lack of family and personal relationships to isolate the character and further depict his Absurd ideals. Throughout The Stranger, Camus’ ideas are seen through Meursault's eyes in many ways: his apathy of the death of his mother, the significance of shooting the gun, and the acceptance of his fate in the prison cell.
The book begins with “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” (Camus, 3). Meursault is unaffected and unsympathetic toward the death of his mother because it makes no difference to his life. Although he attended the funeral, he did not request to see the body which is unusual. Instead of grieving, Meursault sat around, slept, and drank some coffee like it was any other day. He said that "It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed" (Camus, 23). Meursault was detached from his mother both before and after her death, so the death of her was insignificant to him. Camus begins the book this way to provide an understanding of the character and how he differs from society’s norms. Camus portrays his ideals of the Absurd onto Meursault, to the point where he does not understand the significance of human life yet. Meursault’s apathy over his mother’s death contributed later on to the plot, as the prosecutor used this to prove his point that the murder was premeditated and that death has no great meaning or importance to Meursault.
Meursault did not grasp the significance of life. When Meursault is at the beach with Raymond and Masson, they confront the two Arabs but Meursault seems to first think about the insignificance of any action that could be done as for human existence. “It ...