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It Takes A Hero To Die For A Cause: Responsibility For One’s Choices In The Stranger

1112 words - 5 pages

It is a lesson that we all must learn at some point in life, one stated perhaps most eloquently by Spider-Man shortly after gaining his powers: “With great power there must also come—great responsibility!” Although he may have appeared to be a normal human without any great power to speak of, Meursault held a great power in Albert Camus’ The Stranger: the power of choice. As the comic book axiom states, this great power could not come without an equally great responsibility; Meursault had to have a strong individual moral code and be willing to deal with the consequences of his choices. By characterizing Meursault as a heroic figure who tells the truth even when it will bring certain death, ...view middle of the document...

Meursault is not normal because he is a heroic figure; nobody expects him to atone for his actions, but he does so anyway. Committing a murder and then accepting the punishment for said murder does not make one a hero in the traditional sense; it makes one an absurd hero, a hero that is considered heroic not necessarily due to the merit of their actions, but due to their willingness to do the opposite of what society tells them. When Meursault’s mother dies, he cannot say that he is sad as society desires, but “what [he] can say for certain is that [he] would rather Maman hadn’t died” (65; pt. 2). Meursault’s lawyer encourages him to say that he held back his emotions on the day of his mother’s death, but Meursault refuses “because it’s not true” (65; pt. 2). The fact that Meursault’s lawyer is encouraging him to lie is evidence that the courts in the world of The Stranger would have been ready and willing to look past Meursault’s misdeed had he been willing to present a more “acceptable” story to the magistrate during his questioning; however, Meursault is not concerned with being accepted by society. Instead, Meursault is concerned with the truth, motivated by his moral values. When Meursault dies for the truth, he is committing the ultimate act of heroism: sacrificing oneself for a cause.
In The Stranger, people are born devoid of intrinsic moral values. Any moral values that they have are developed on an individual basis. In both the Arab’s murder and Meursault’s subsequent questioning and trial, Meursault holds the power of choice. It would have been easy for Meursault to use his power of choice to escape from the consequences of his crime, but with Meursault’s power of choice comes a necessary responsibility for his choices and their consequences. Meursault’s sense of responsibility stems from his strong sense of individual morality. Meursault has a set of moral values that differs greatly from those of the average individual. While others are readily willing to look past the death of the Arab, Meursault is not as morally loose. Although he initially believes that his imprisonment and deprivation of cigarettes and women to be “unfair treatment” (78;...

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