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The Stranger Research Paper

Submitted By
Words 894
Pages 4
Ashley Collins
Mrs. Buckley
World Literature
24 November 2014

Living in a Meaningless World
In his existential novel The Stranger, Albert Camus portrays his existential theme of the absurdity of the universe through the main character, Monsieur Meursault’s actions and his apparent lack of all human emotion. However, in this novel the reader will find that Meursault is oblivious to the absurd that Camus has falsified, but nonetheless Meursault is affected by the absurd. Camus explores this theme in order to explicate the importance of certain existential realities throughout his novel. For example, Meursault is always seeking logic in an illogical world; in addition, he sees no meaning in any of his interactions or relationships with the
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Meursault’s perception of the illogical world begins with the first line in the novel, and is equivalent through the death of his mother.
Throughout Camus’s The Stranger there are several references to an event that occurs at the outset of the novel and portrays ideas related to existentialism: the death of Meursault’s mother. His insensitivity is introduced through his lack of emotion that Meursault displays upon the news of the death of his mother. For the most part, he seemingly not cares for his own mother which is shown in his opening statement, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday” (Camus 3) the reader immediately sees Meursault as the personification of existentialism, the existential hero. Camus uses the death of Meursault’s mother to convey his existentialist philosophy which in this case shows the absurd reactions to death. It seems as though Meursault is more concerned with the time of his mother’s passing rather than the fact that he just lost a loved one. In fact,
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He lives among outsiders, but to them, too, he is a stranger.... And we ourselves, who, on opening the book are not yet familiar with the feeling of the absurd, vainly try to judge him according to our usual standards. For us, too, he is a stranger....” (Discovering Authors). The perception that Camus gives to his readers is that no human is familiar with the absurd until judgement begins to play a role which is portrayed heavily throughout the novel. While attending his mother’s funeral, Meursault decides to smoke cigarettes, drink a cup of coffee, and he fails to show any emotion. The character is present at the funeral physically while also showing no real interest of really wanting to be there. His mind is elsewhere throughout the entire time he is at the home where his mother stayed even the caretaker recognizes Meursault’s blank expressions every time his mother is mentioned. The death of his mother does not really have any significance on his life, Meursault only wishes that “...Maman hadn’t died” (Camus 65) so that his schedule and would not have had to change. Camus is

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