Is Meursault Really a “Stranger”?

In the novel, The Stranger, it is clear that the main character of Meursault seems to be a “stranger” in his world. From not showing any emotion at his mother’s funeral, to shooting a man with seemingly no remorse, it is hard for us as reader’s to completely understand why Meursault is the way he is. Sure, we could say he is a sociopath due to the lack of sympathy/empathy he shows throughout the text. However, I believe that us labeling Meursault as a sociopath is merely a cover up for something much deeper about his character; that being his similarity to us.

We all feel emotions on a day to day base. What I believe is the most frustrating thing in, The Stranger, is that we see almost no emotion come from Meursault. Is this necessarily a bad thing though? Meursault doesn’t feel many complex emotions, and he spends most of his time basing his life off of the physical sensations in life (sex, cigarettes, light, etc). He never seems to be happy, but he also never seems to be sad…

I believe that Meursault understands what emotions are and most likely feels them sometimes, but I think that he ultimately finds emotions (along with most things in life ) meaningless. Due to this, he remains indifferent about the majority of things in life until it comes down to physical sensations.

Now, going into the degree of Meursault’s “strangeness”:

I am sure that we all get excited for our birthday’s, Christmas, etc. Those days are the best days, right? But then you wake up the day after your birthday, or Christmas, and everything is exactly the way it was before. You might be a year older, or have a new computer; but what significance does that really bring to your life? None.

I am sure that we all have had sporadic moments in life where we have thought about how meaningless everything around us is. How your own personal existence does not really matter. How nothing matters. When we think about these truths, we for the most part, feel sadness. The people around us tell us, “No! Life is meaningful, you mean so much to this world” etc, and we think, “hmm they may be right”. We convince ourselves that we DO matter, and that the world is a better place with us on it. It would essentially be too hard to view the world as completely, and utterly meaningless.

All in all, I think that we have all been in Meursault’s shoes. So what if I kill a man? It doesn’t really matter. Nothing matters! We are all “strangers” in this world. Meursault has simply accepted that life is meaningless, whereas most of us are constantly searching for meaning in life. Which take on life is better?

One thought on “Is Meursault Really a “Stranger”?

  1. Danny K

    When you present the idea of people not being able to accept the world as a meaningless place, I think that strongly relates to The Stranger. I personally feel that the book, especially towards the end, emphasizes this point. This can be especially be seen in the passage with the priest visiting Meursault in prison, and also within the courtroom. I also like how you raise the question of which viewpoint of life is better.

    Liked by 1 person

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