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"The Stranger," by Albert Camus, is a novel about an absurd hero. Meursault is an absurd hero because he lives life as an existentialist. An existentialist is someone who believes that life has no meaning, is unable to rationalize, and is indifferent to everything. Meursault believes that life is meaningless and is unable to rationalize anything. In "The Stranger," Albert Camus demonstrates how life is absurd and meaningless for the main character, Meursault, because he focuses on physical aspects, does not care about things, and knows that nothing is eternal.
Meursault only pays attention to the physical aspects of life, and not the emotional aspects. At Maman's vigil, he focuses only on the description of his surroundings and never on his emotions. He describes the furniture as "cross-shaped sawhorses" and the casket as "walnut-stained planks" (Camus 6). The hearse used to carry the casket is "varnished, glossy, and oblong," reminding Meursault "of a pencil box" (14). While walking to the spot of Maman's burial, he notices the sun and that "it was getting hotter by the minute" (15). Another time where he focuses on the physical is when Raymond Sintés beats his girlfriend. After Raymond beats her, Marie Cardona is too upset and bothered by what she just saw, so she cannot eat; however, Meursault really does not care and "ate almost everything" (37). Later in the novel, Meursault shows no emotion when he murders an Arab man. He blames his actions on "the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead" and the sea carrying "up a thick, fiery breath" (59). Since he has no emotional attachments, he lives irrationally. He does not believe that he needs to have emotional attachments because life is meaningless. Meursault's lack of emotion throughout the novel is because he lives his life as an existentialist.
Meursault's lack of emotion is due mainly to the fact that he just does not care. When Maman died, he really did not care when it had happened. "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know" (Camus 3). Raymond asks Meursault to write a letter to his girlfriend, to which Meursault "tried my best to please Raymond because I didn't have any reason not to please him" (32). As Raymond later beats his girlfriend, Meursault refuses to call the police simply because he does not like them and does not care enough to deal with people he does not like. Later, when Marie asks him if he loves her, he responds, "I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so" (35). When she asks if he will marry him, he says he will to please her. At work, Meursault's boss offers him a job in Paris. Meursault believes that "one life was as good as another," so he does not care where he live and works (41). Every person's life is essentially equal to everyone else's. At his trial for the murder of the Arab, Meursault is asked if he is sorry for what he has done. He responds, "more than sorry I felt kind of annoyed" (70). Meursault does not care because he believes life to be meaningless. In addition, his lack of care leads him to be irrational in his decisions, such as when he murdered the Arab. By not caring and living life as an existentialist, Meursault realizes that he too must die.
Meursault comes to the realization that everything must die eventually. He realizes that even he must die and he cannot change this fact of life. Due to this fact, he believes "life isn't worth living" (Camus 114). The world can continue without humanity, but humanity cannot continue without the world. This leads him to the conclusion that "since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter" (114). If he were to die now, it would not make any difference than if he were to die later in life because he "would still be the one dying" (114). Nothing in the world is lasting or eternal; everything must die. Since nothing is eternal, Meursault decides that life is meaningless and makes irrational decisions. By making this realization, Meursault becomes a truer existentialist and an even bigger absurd hero.
Meursault never shows his emotions and does not care because he knows that all must die. Since he lives life like this, he is an absurd hero and an existentialist. Therefore, Albert Camus demonstrates life's absurdity and meaninglessness through the main character, Meursault, in "The Stranger."
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. Print.