The Paper of the Absurd: a Literary Analysis of the Stranger Essay Example
The Paper of the Absurd: a Literary Analysis of the Stranger Essay Example

The Paper of the Absurd: a Literary Analysis of the Stranger Essay Example

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In Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger, the absurdity of life and existence is revealed and discussed in a way that challenges the very essence of spirituality. The central concept that guides this novel is the "absurd," a term coined by Camus.

Under the absurd, life has no meaning or significance. People simply exist to fulfill their responsibilities in life. Additionally, every possible action is controlled by chance and circumstances. The main character, Meursault, is the primary example that Camus uses to support this idea.

He Meursault lives a relatively normal life of indifference until the sudden flood of changes overwhelms him. It is at this moment that he realizes the absurdity of his situation and starts accepting his own futile existence. At the beginning of the novel, one cannot help but notice Meursault's indifference and "listl


ess detachment" (Oxford Companion 101). From the very first page, we become aware of the extent of his lack of emotions: "Maman died today."

Or possibly yesterday, I don't know. It is evident that after the death of his own mother, he demonstrates no emotion (Magill 346). Shortly after the completion of the funeral, he takes hold of the hand of a woman he once knew and promptly disregards the events surrounding his sorrowful loss. The depth of his apathy permeates the entire novel.

According to Camus (32), Meursault claimed, "I only find it interesting, nothing more." Later (35), he also said, "I explained to her that it didn't matter." The protagonist thought about his mother but had to wake up early the next day and went to bed hungry. It is evident that Meursault lacks emotional depth.

The text discusses how the individual mentioned

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in the passage lacks any emotions towards others, including his girlfriend, friend, mother, or even himself. Two sources, Schellinger (page 1289) and Brombert (page 121), support this observation. It is noted that he does not make any efforts to understand existence or anything of that nature. Instead, he simply embodies the concept of "cosmic indifference" (Books Abroad, page 234).

He cares for nothing and expects nothing to care for him. He, in his entirety, is the perfect illustration of someone in the early stages of existential absurdity. He acknowledges that life has no meaning but has not yet moved beyond that realization. So far, the only accurate way to describe Meursault is a man with nihilistic beliefs (Girard 519). In the background of Meursault’s life, the forces of chance and happenstance are shaping his future, for better or worse, one cannot be certain.

One set of coinciding events proves to be the most destructive. Meursault coincidentally hears rumors about a man named Raymond. Later that day, he coincidentally runs into him in the hallway. Raymond happens to have food in his apartment, and Meursault is a little hungry. They both go up and eat together, and coincidentally Meursault notices the mark on Raymond's hand. By coincidence, Raymond asks Meursault to write a note that aims to socially destroy his cheating mistress.

Meursault's indifference remains and he doesn't mind writing about it. The note was successful and these two individuals become friends. Raymond's friend asks both of them to join for a weekend at the beach and Meursault happens to be available. The three men take a walk on the beach together and encounter the Arabs whom Raymond has

an issue with.

Raymond steals Meursault's gun with the intention of confronting the Arab man. They engage in a physical altercation and Raymond emerges victorious, causing the Arabs to flee down the beach. After this incident, the three men decide to make their way back home; however, Meursault expresses a desire to remain behind.

Meursault casually conceals the gun in his pocket and proceeds to stroll along the beach. Coincidentally, he bumps into the Arab whom Raymond had previously struck. Standing face to face, they engage in a tense confrontation under the unusually scorching sun. Suddenly, the Arab unsheathes a knife, and by chance, the sun's rays align to create a fiery glare in Meursault's eyes.

As a result, Meursault instinctively pulls the trigger of the gun, shooting the Arab in the head and instantly killing him. This is the moment when chance no longer has control over Meursault. He.

In a sudden realization, Meursault understands the absurdity of the universe, acknowledging that his entire existence, as well as everything happening around him, is arbitrary and occurs by chance (Books Abroad 234). Consequently, Meursault proceeds to begin his journey towards becoming a self-controlled individual by firing four additional shots into the lifeless body of the Arab (Hunter 26).

Now he fully recognizes the presence of the absurd, but still refuses to embrace it. He continues to reside in his ignorant bubble, which prevents him from making rational connections. His indifference has not yet waned. He endures tests, entreaties for imprisonment, and re-imprisonment, all approached with a detached sense of apathy. Only when he embraces the absurd can he begin to truly feel anything. The most challenging aspect for Meursault is

accepting the absurdity due to the consequences it entails.

To embrace this mindset, one must fully acknowledge that life lacks significance and will always lack significance. Additionally, one must believe that the sole purpose of their existence is to live without considering an afterlife. This can be particularly challenging for individuals who spend a majority of their lives justifying their existence and seeking answers.

"Why are we here?". For Meursault to embrace the absurd, he must undergo a moment of Cogito-Ergo-Sum-Renee Descartes and completely reassess all his previous thoughts. In order for this transformation to occur, he must first lift the heavy veil of indifference that has plagued him for an extensive period of time.

"At that precise moment, the chaplain arrived" (Camus 115). Once again, fate has shifted the situation. Meursault, an atheist, declines to encounter any chaplain, but unexpectedly, one appears and endeavors to convert him. Initially, there is hesitation.

Ignoring the attempts to engage, Meursault perceives them as mere annoyance. However, when the priest becomes overtly persistent, Meursault retaliates with the force of a detonated bomb. he expresses his anger and delight vehemently, stating: "I was pouring out on him everything that was in my heart, uttering both curses and cries of joy" (Camus 120).

At this moment, Meursault transcends his indifference and enters a realm of emotions after the priest departs from his cell. Resting on his bed, Meursault contemplates and fully embraces the notion of the absurd. Initially, he acknowledges the belief that a dog's life is just as valuable as a woman's life (Camus 121).

And so, he came to realize that he himself was just as insignificant as everything else. It was at this

moment that he accepted the most controversial aspect of the absurd: the belief that existence is meaningless (Brombert 121). When one fully embraces the absurd, happiness is bound to ensue. Happiness and the absurd are two siblings originating from the same origin.

According to Marino (491), they are indivisible. Finally, Meursault can experience the happiness of living in a meaningless world. Suddenly, he understands the reason why his Maman tried to embrace life again: she also embraced the absurdity.

Now, with a sense of happiness and belief in the irrational, Meursault is liberated from any reference and is capable of fully experiencing life once again. He is dedicated to embracing the irrationality of life and everything that it includes (Beacham 4060).

For my final point, I would like to analyze the implications of this novel regarding faith. The fundamental principles of all forms of faith include a governing deity or deities and some form of an afterlife.

In this novel, the concept of a divine being is purposely negated, and instead, the idea of a controlling deity is substituted with that of chance and guidance (Books Abroad 234).

Camus rejects the belief in an afterlife, whether it is good or bad, in this novel. According to Beetz (4059), he argues that there is no eternity, therefore everything must be accomplished in this current life. Furthermore, there is no presence of a higher power or an afterlife.

The nullification of the object of faith occurs when the belief in the intrinsic significance of life, often associated with a deity's plan, is diminished. This belief serves as a driving force for many Christian actions and is considered the concluding and most celebrated

belief in various faiths.

According to Beetz (4059), life lacks significance and holds no hope for ever having meaning. This statement further undermines a philosophy of religion, leaving it in ruins within the context of the absurd novel. The message I intend to convey is that the absurd and faith cannot coexist.

The limited number of individuals who can attain genuine happiness and acceptance, believing their lives are as valuable as a family pet, is due to this mindset. Regrettably, this also implies that enlightenment remains elusive for most people. If only everyone could comprehend the concepts conveyed in Albert Camus' contemplative novel. Ultimately, I will assess humanity's intellectual development by examining the journey of a lone individual.

Initially, man goes through a phase of apathy, where he neglects the welfare of others and possibly his own. Subsequently, he transitions into a stage where he disregards the viewpoints of others and directs his attention towards gaining command over his own life, acknowledging the absurdity inherent in it all.

Ultimately, a state of bliss is attained as he wholeheartedly embraces the absurd and commits himself to it. It is only at this point that one can truly achieve enlightenment and genuine happiness. Once more, faith remains the sole obstacle on the path towards perfection.

When an adult male surpasses this obstacle, the possibilities are endless. Meursault was merely a tool utilized by Camus to illustrate the world as a reflection of itself. Once the world overcomes its problems of meaninglessness and its ineffective attempts at peace, it can genuinely achieve a state of tranquility.

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