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World Literature Assignment. IB English A1 SL Word Count: 1251.

Changing Mindset and the Quality of Perseverance of Life in Siddhartha and The Stranger. Quoting Maria Robinson Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. The protagonists of the two novels Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and The Stranger by Albert Camus have been rendered on the basis of the principles of Buddhism and the philosophy of Existentialism respectively. The protagonist of the novel Siddhartha, has been portrayed as a character who is in search for finding his true self within. Whereas the protagonist of the novel The Stranger, Meursault is portrayed as a character who does not care about the outside world and is an atheist. Due to the difference in the beliefs and theories of both the protagonists of the novels they perceive their lives in their own fashion. This essay will be comparing the change in the mindset and the manner of persevering the hardships of life of Siddhartha to that of Meursault.

The protagonist of the novel Siddhartha has been portrayed as a son of a highly respected and learned Brahmin who is very patient, strong willed, persevering, as well as a willing learner. The character of Siddhartha is a person who does not perceive things the way society expects him to, but a person who perceives things the way he wants to. Siddhartha is a character that is not satisfied with the knowledge he receives and is always inquisitive to learn more. "Slower, he walked along in his thoughts and asked himself: 'But what is this, what you have sought to learn from teachings and from teachers, and what they, who have taught you much, were still unable to teach you?"1 Because of this inquisitiveness Siddhartha joined the Samanas. On the other hand the protagonist of the novel The Stranger is portrayed as a man who is in conflict with himself. He wants to find the I within himself but is unaware of that. He does not care about the way the society thinks of him and is very conservative. Meursault is clearly an unreflecting and an unapologetic individual. Throughout the novel Meursault is portrayed as being judged by many of his contemporaries as immoral or amoral, is consistently honest and direct. One can see these qualities of Meursault at the very beginning of the book by his reaction to his mothers death: Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I dont know.2 After staying with the Samanas for three years Siddhartha decided to move on his own as he felt that he did not learn what he wanted to achieve. By staying with the Samanas for three years he had learnt their way of living and he also began to think like them. The three main things that he learnt from the Samanas was to fast, to think and to

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Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Pg 3. Camus, Albert. The Stranger.

be patient. After he left the Samanas with his friend Govinda in search for the Illustrious One he reached a village where the Illustrious One resided with the followers. Siddhartha on seeing the followers of Buddha wondered as to why they followed him. On seeing Buddha for the fist time he admired him as he had reached the goal that he wanted to attain. After thinking for the entire night Siddhartha realised he could not achieve his goal by following anyone and the only way he could was by himself. It was after his conversation with Buddha that he realised that Buddha could only give him directions as to how he could attain salvation but Buddha could not tell him how he felt when he attained salvation and so Siddhartha decided to go on his way. Contrary to the change in mindset of Siddhartha, the change in the mindset of Mersault was when he killed the Arab and was imprisoned. Before Meursault was imprisoned he never cared about anything and he only believed in the physical aspects of the world. It was when Meursault was imprisoned that he began to think about himself and wanted to search for the I within himself, and because of which he had to change his attitude and the way of persevering things around him. Thus, we can see the contrast between the two protagonists, as Siddhartha was willing to change his mindset to achieve his goal to attain Salvation while Meursault was a non- searcher. After a long journey Siddhartha reached the village, and it was when he met Kamala who was a courtesan he got the sense of love and affection in him. Siddhartha had no knowledge about love and so he wanted to learn it from Kamala for which he entered the materialistic world. This is when one can see how his life as a Samana ends and his life in the materialistic world starts. After he started to work with Kamaswami he earned a lot of money became a rich man just as Kamala wanted him to be so that she would teach him

about love. We can see the change in the mindset of Siddhartha when he starts taking interest in money, he starts consuming alcohol and he starts taking interest in all the things that are materialistic. When Siddhartha sat under his mango tree in his pleasure garden and thought deeply he realised the uselessness of all the worldly pleasures and left the town. It is at this point when he decided to end his life as he is ashamed of himself for wasting these useful years. We see the irony at this point as it was this river that Siddhartha had crossed the river to start a new life and at that point it was the same river in which he wanted to put an end to his life. Mersault after being imprisoned began to view his life in a completely different manner. He begins to think about things in a deeper way and tries to find the meaning behind them. As Meursault was enclosed in the four walls of the cell he made assumptions about the nature of the world around him. However, his thinking begins to broaden once he is sentenced to death. After his encounter with the chaplain, Meursault concludes that the universe was like him, totally indifferent to human life. He comes to the conclusion that peoples lives have no grand meaning or importance, and that their actions, their comings and goings, have no effect on the world. This is an important part in the book as it is here that he finally realizes what he had to attain throughout his life. After comparing the change in the outlook of the two protagonists of the novels Siddhartha and The Stranger one can conclude that one has to change in life in order to reach his or her goal. We can see that in both the novels the protagonists had to make a major change in themselves in order to reach their goals. For example, in Siddhartha the protagonist goes through a major change when he understood the real meaning of life and

reached his goal of attaining Nirvana and the same way in The Stranger the protagonist changes himself when he realized the indifference of life.

Word Count: 1251. Bibliography Camus, Albert; The Stranger (Translated by Matthew Ward; Published by Vintage International; 1946) Hesse, Hermann; Siddhartha (Translated by Hilda Rosner; Published by Bantam Books; 1971) Warnock, Mary; Existentialism (Oxford University Press, USA; Rev Ed edition (October 15, 1970))