Absurdity In The Stranger

1447 Words6 Pages
World Literature
Ms. Megan Wall
Jin Woo Lee
September 23, 2015
The Stranger Essay: Topic One The Stranger, written by a famous French philosopher Albert Camus, tells a story of a young Algerian man, Meursault, who perceives his life, values, behavioural norms differently from other people in his society. Throughout the course of the rest of the novel, readers can easily notice Meursault as a detached and indifferent character who shows difficulty in expressing his emotions. However, by characterising Meursault in such ways, Camus indirectly challenges the society’s conventional moral standards and brings up the idea of absurdism philosophy. By describing the actions of Meursault and minor characters, Camus successfully conveys ideas such
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According to Camus, the term absurdity refers to “humanity’s futile attempt to obtain meaning and order in life where none exists.” This philosophy is not directly stated in The Stranger, but the readers can easily see that this notion is portrayed through minor characters’ interaction with Meursault. As mentioned earlier in the previous paragraph, Meursault does not possess any rational order in himself nor does he believes that there is meaning in life; however, the society in which Meursault lives in continuously attempts to impose rational explanations for his immoral behaviours, which is showing absurdism philosophy. This is mainly shown in part two as the witnesses, lawyer, magistrate and the judge all make attempts to fabricate rational order for Meursault’s murder. From the beginning of part two, the readers can easily see how numerous minor characters try to relate Maman’s death with Meursault’s murder of Arab. For example, the lawyer tells Meursault that “the investigators had learned that [Meursault] had shown insensitivity the day of Maman’s funeral” and questions him “if [he] had felt any sadness that day” (64). This quote clearly shows how the lawyer wants to make sense of this case in his own way in order to understand Meursault’s irrational action, when there is no correlation…show more content…
This idea is clearly shown in part one when Meursault describes Raymond’s encounter with the policeman after the beating incident. Meursault describes, “right then the cop slapped him— a thick, heavy smack right across the face”; this quote clearly shows that concept of justice is flawed in this society because although people criticises Raymond for hitting his mistress and calls the act immoral, they deem the cop’s action to be moral (36). Physically, both violence are nearly the same, yet one is regarded as wrong, and the other, is justified. Through Meursault’s interaction with the policeman, Camus implicitly challenges the truth of society’s accepted moral order and the concept of justice. In addition, the trial scene in part 2 of the novel also conveys this theme. Although Meursault’s act of murder is a serious crime, it seems as if the magistrate and the juries are not judging Meursault for his murder, but for his indifferent behaviour toward Maman’s death because the latter explanation makes more sense to them. For example, when the magistrate gives his closing statement, Meursault describes “it was then that he talked about my attitude toward Maman. It went on much longer than when he talking about my crime” (100). In addition, the magistrate claims that Meursault’s indifferent reaction over Maman’s death threatens the moral
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