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Essay On Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): World Without Purpose

1773 words - 7 pages

World Without Purpose in Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) 

In The Stranger, Albert Camus misleadingly portrays his existentialistic views of life, death, and the world.  Camus portrays the world as absurd or without purpose Meaursalt, who, as a reflection of Camus, is foreign and indifferent to his own life and death.  Meaursalt eventually senses guilt for his crime, not because of the remorse of taking someone else’s life, but because it means he would lose the little things that he considers important in his life.  Meaursalt is a puzzling character, who leaves readers to be uncertain about Camus’ views of life.

      Meaursalt is a simple and ordinary man living in French Morocco.  Neither intellectual nor emotional, when his mother died, he did not feel or show any sorrow.  He is a character rather distracted by his surrounding, such as people walking by and nature.  He would feel much irritation whenever the sun would shine red and bright.  On a thoughtless walk on the beach, he ends up killing an Arab (who had a hostile relationship with his friend) for no apparent reason, but because his [Arab] blade light reflected by the sun.  In addition, for no good reason he shoots four more times, the body lying on the ground.  He is tried in court, during which he feels he is his own spectator.  Meaursalt gets convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  Before execution, he feels guilt for the first time because he would miss the simple things in life.  However, he is never scared to die, because for him death comes eventually.  Just before the execution, a chaplain tries to make him believe in God, but Meaursalt angrily defends his atheistic views.      

        Meaursalt is an uncommon character that prefers simplicity.  Readers could find him too simple and even completely apathetic of life.  He is an atheist, which means he does not concern himself about the afterlife.  He is not immoral or moral, but amoral.  There is no good or evil, because it is meaningless for Meaursalt.  He has a job, a girlfriend, friends, and the things an average person has.  But he is without meaning, which reflects his indifference to emotions, such as the reaction to his mother's death.  His thought was that he would go back to work and that nothing would change.  When his boss offers him a position in Paris, Meaursalt answers, “People can never change their lives, that in any case one life was good as another; I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all”(41).  When his girlfriend Marie suggests marriage, he says “yes” because marriage would not make any difference in his life. 

      The sun is a major symbol in the novel.  Meaursalt despises the heat of the bright red sun.  The sun is Meaursalt’s nemesis, because it symbolizes destruction and violence.  He describes heat as “inhuman and oppressive” (15).  During the murder trial, the prosecutor questions why he shot the victim four additional times.  It wasn’t because of a grudge against the...

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