Throughout The Stranger, there is a crucial theme that underlies every passage; existentialism and the meaninglessness of existence. This theme and Camus’ opinions on it are demonstrated in many ways in the book, but in particularly, through Meursault’s character, his words and his actions.
Camus’ background of being a existentialist writer, who believed that humans must make their own meaning in a world that is essentially without meaning, paved the way for Meursualt’s character. Meursault is a detached figure who views and describes much of what occurs around him from a removed and distant position. He is emotionally dispassionate to others, including his own mother and Marie.
There are many times throughout the book, where Meursault demonstrates existentialist views. The point of the book that stood out to me in this regard was when the magistrate was waving the crucifix is his face. Meursalt’s only response to this powerful scene was, “I was hot and there were big flies in his office that kept landing on my face” (page 68). This complete disregard for a moment that would typically evoke emotion from someone further illustrates his existential beliefs.
Even the murder that Meursault commits is meaningless in his eyes. He provides no reason for killing his victim aside from being bothered by the sun. His actions are without reason. He feels as though he lives in an absurd world in which nothing is governed by reason.
The whole basis and frustrating reason behind Meursault’s character is the fact that it demonstrates existentialism, which can be both very interesting and complicated to understand.