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Stout 1 Jaime Stout Dr.

Walton/Period 4 AP English 12 21 January 2013 Although Camus himself did not consider himself an existentialist, his novel The Stranger depicts the epitome of the existential soul through Meursault, the main character. In a stark contrast to the “best of all possible worlds” theory in Candide, Camus presents the reader with a world that is essentially the worst of all possible worlds, at least according to Meursault. A world with no higher meaning or purpose that we cannot fix or change, but simply have to deal with. A world that is purely physical, with a gentle indifference. This theme begins from the very first page of the book, when you learn that Meursault’s mother has passed away, and although he goes to her vigil and funeral he shows absolutely no grief or emotion reaction towards it whatsoever. In fact he almost seems annoyed at one point, which most would consider unusual. He then proceeds to go on a date with a woman the very next day, a date which he also is completely, and absurdly indifferent to. Camus uses Meursault’s distinct non-reactions to point out that although this world may not be perfect, or have anything after it; it would be absurd to live in such a way that made life not worth living. Meursault lives his life almost as a zombie would, not really caring for or about anyone or anything, kind of just letting life happen to him and accepting the blows, instead of living a proactive and fulfilling life.

and even keeps him from doing harm to his mistress’s brother. as soon as he accepts it as finality. actually causes him to be happy for once. even after their relationship becomes intimate. He in turn. His stubborn belief in the indifference of life. This can be seen in both his relationship with Marie and his relationship with Salamano. and to write the forged letter for him. Content for really the first time in the whole novel. He comes to his own conclusion that although he lived his life in such a way. This is in complete contrast to the reason the average person has a fiancée or friend. He is continuously indifferent. though seemingly depressing. or they become engaged. With Marie. and even when he is about to die because of it he refuses. Where most would consider Meursault’s life to have been wasted in indifference. and has as much of a reaction those happenings as he does to his morning coffee. in the end. yet feels nothing more towards him than that he is simply tolerable. he looks back on it as extremely well spent. especially when it comes to his firm atheism. there’s nothing else to come. that doesn’t stop him from desiring and feeling the pressure to follow the normal conventions of life. Even though Meursault. dies a content man. or understand why Meursault feels and acts the way he does. is content with the way he has lived his life. and that it wouldn’t have mattered even if it wasn’t. and doesn’t mind being around him. because as soon as it was over. instead of simply indifferent to everything. which is .Stout 2 Even the other characters on the novel can’t even seem to grasp. the Arab. he could have lived it any other way and it wouldn’t have made any difference in how everything turned out. but can’t seem to feel anything. which is an extreme existential outlook on life. he agrees to be his friend. Meursault wants to feel and live the happy life that she lives. or some higher influence at all. They try time and time again to convince him to believe in God. When it comes to Salamano.

indifferent and physical. in a world where so many others are continuously searching for meaning and purpose. Camus uses Meursault and all of his existential indifference to make the statement that life has no rational or redeeming meaning and the moral orders have no rational or natural basis. and therefore becomes a being who simply takes up space. unmotivated. making Meursault’s motives seem absurd the average person. . but does not believe as Meursault does. Camus presents this philosophy. His gentle indifference leads him ultimately to a not so gentle removal from the purely physical world on which he lives. Although he seems to be aware and sensitive to what everyone around him feels. he cannot recognize any emotions in himself. by not even attempting to take the opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of society and save his own life. he is still able to die with a peace that sets him free. or they enjoy their company. even in the face of a world that may not be anything but cold.Stout 3 because they love them. in fact he is actually a firm believer in having faith in man’s existentialism. Meursault essentially ends up committing suicide. Even though Meursault is persecuted by society for his indifference towards life.