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

1784 Words Jan 12th, 2011 8 Pages
The Paper of the Absurd: A Literary Analysis of The Stranger

By: Michael Lovett
Advanced Placement English Language and Compositions
5th Period
13th of December, 2010

Michael Lovett In Albert Camus’ existential novel The Stranger, the pointlessness of life and existence is exposed and expounded upon in such a manner that the entire foundation of spirituality is shaken. The concept that drives this novel is one coined by Albert Camus himself, the “absurd”. Under the absurd, life is pointless and holds no meaning. One lives merely to fulfill the obligation of living. Also, every possible action conceivable is governed by the static tools of chance and coincidence. The dynamic character, Meursault, is the primary outlet that Camus uses
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As a result, Meursault mechanically reacts and squeezes the trigger of the gun, firing one shot into the head of the Arab, killing him instantly. This is the point that chance loses it’s hold upon Meursault. He, in a sudden thought, realizes the absurdity of the world and that his entire life, as well as existence, is gratuitous and happens on chance (Books Abroad 234). Meursault then takes the first steps towards a self controlled existence and fires four more shots into the corpse of the Arab (Hunter 26). Now, he has fully acknowledged the presence of the absurd but has yet to accept it. He is still living in his shell of ignorance that can and will prevent him from any intellectual gain. His indifference has yet to lift. He sits through trial, imprisonment, appeal, and re-imprisonment, all with the detached feeling of uncaring. It will not be until he accepts absurdity that he can force himself to feel anything. The hardest part for Meursault is actually accepting the absurd because of the implications behind it. For him to accept, he would have to fully recognize that life, in fact, has no meaning and never will have any meaning. Also, he’ll have to agree that he himself has no purpose other than to live out his life under the assumption that after death, he can live no more. This mindset is hard for anyone to grasp, especially for those who spend the majority of their lives trying to rationalize their existence and answer the question,…