Existentialism and The Individual

While discussing existentialism for the first time I was very confused and frustrated. Lots of the things that I thought brought meaning to life were illusions in the eyes of existentialism.

While discussing existentialism for the first time, I was very confused and frustrated. Lots of the things that I thought brought meaning to life were illusions in the eyes of existentialism.

Existentialism defines life as absurd, and I do believe life can be wild and unpredictable, but not that friends and family don’t bring meaning to it. Existentialism overall is about living a life as an individual and for oneself.

In The Stranger, we can witness the philosophy of existentialism through the narrator’s perspective. Meursault, the narrator, lives his life as an individual and does things his way and when he wants too. The book focuses on Meursault’s outlook on life, and he realizes that it is about living, not for others, but yourself. Meursault finds meaning while sitting alone in his jail cell, which isn’t an exciting place to be, but he gets used to it.

As the book comes to an end, we see Meursault contemplating in his head about life. He is not thinking about others, but himself and the fate that was to become a reality. He was learning to exist, which brought happiness to him.

Overall after reflecting on the ideas of existentialism and The Stranger, I can grasp their purpose better. But I don’t think I can give up on the “illusions” that I believe brings meaning to my life. Everyone has a different way of seeing themselves in the world, but I think I can say my isn’t through existentialism, but others might so keep living on as an individual.

Albert Camus’s existentialism is not as depressing as you think.

Existentialism is a complex philosophy. Due to the very nature of existentialism, to question one’s purpose and reject the conventional meanings people give to life, most would be led to believe that existentialism is simply a synonym for pessimism. Other existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, strengthen this stereotype that existentialism parallels nihilism. However, a common misunderstanding is that all existentialists believe in a life without meaning. While Albert Camus accepts that life is absurd, unlike other existentialists, he rejects complete hopelessness. Camus argues that one must accept that their life will not mean anything in the long run, that one’s actions will be ultimately futile and human life will always be absurd, but one must live on nonetheless. Even with this knowledge that the universe was not made for us, Camus still believed that life is worth enduring. The fact that you as an individual exists at all is meaningful on its own. We must acknowledge the absurdities of human existence, but to strive to be as happy and content as we possibly can anyway. As Camus writes in The Myth of Sisyphus, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”. After Sisyphus accepts the hopelessness of his situation, he embraces his burden and thus, it is no longer a punishment for him. Once you realize that there is no inherent meaning to life and that we do not truly have any particular purpose, only then can you become truly free to create your own meaning. When you really look deeper into the message behind Camus’s ideology, you’ll realize that it’s actually about being happy.

Camu’s Reason to Live

Camu is well known for his bold question about philosophy. He believed that the most important question was wether one should kill oneself. Is life worth living once people recognize it’s meaninglessness? This is where Camu’s essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” comes into play. Camu invites us all to put ourselves in the shoes of Sisyphus. To pretend we are going on in a meaningless existence, completing the same monotonous tasks for our entire lives. If that were the case, why live? That is when consciousness enters the picture.

Camu is able to argue that Sisyphus’s consciousness, while being the basis of his punishment, frees him. In that same way, our own consciousness can free us from the absurdity and meaninglessness of our own lives. Camu was not like other, dreary existentialists of his time. He was a very lively actually. In his time, he was almost an icon of youth and fashion. He was the type of man to win nobel prizes in literature, and appear on the cover of Vogue. He enjoyed life very much, and found most simple pleasures to give meaning to life.

Camu believed that while constructs like friends, family, and love, could still be enjoyed through an existentialist lense. He also believed one should simple, immediate pleasures. These could include, music, sport, sex, and many other immediate pleasures. Enjoying these simple pleasures is almost laughing in the face of the gods. Learning to simply enjoy oneself in the face of emptiness is true freedom. It is also why, in Camu’s opinion, life is worth living.

Existentialism in “Dead Poets Society”

When reading “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus, the vivid exemplification of existentialism in the novel, and its embodiment in the protagonist, Meursault, reminded me of a recent movie I had seen. Meursault’s complete detachment from social norms and societal constructions was reminiscent of the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” by Peter Weir.

In the movie, Robin William’s character, John Keating, plays an English teacher at a rigirous and strict private school. However unlike the other teacher’s at the school, Keating does not believe in textbooks and rating literature on a graph. He tells the students to take the pages of their textbook and rip them out because they are meaningless. He even disregards the societal rules by telling everyone to stand on their desks.

Just like Meursault, Keating’s unorthodox manner does not go over well with the rest of society. The schoolmaster is offended and upset with Keating for not teaching correctly, or in other words, following the social construct of what a teacher should be. As as result he is fired and the kids are assigned a new teacher. The kids of course were engaged and actually cared about the subject when Keating was teacher, so they were devastated when he was fired.

In both works, existentialism is rejected by society, and they are both worse off for it. If only society could understand and adopt the construct-free way of life then everyone would be better of because of it.

Meursault and his Mother

The Stranger, a novel by Albert Camus, lives up to the title. The story is about a character that is very alienated from society, from friends, from his lover, from human emotion, and eventually from normal logic. Meursault separates himself from these traits. Meursault shows no emotion to his own mother which leaves me wonders if they had a loving or hatred relationship.

At the start of the book Meursault’s mother has passed away. Meursault’s mother was living her last years in a nursing home which she was put in by Meursault. Upon hearing the death of his mother, Meursault didn’t cry and didn’t look at his mother one last time. Meursault was showing no emotion to the passing of his mother. Many criticized Meursault for not taking care of his mother and just putting her in a nursing home because he needed to provide for himself. After the separation Meursault didn’t put in any effort to see her. All of Meursault’s actions towards his mother shows that they didn’t have a good relationship. But, Meursault could of loved his mother very much. It’s just, Meursault’s strange personality makes it hard for us to understand the relationship they had.

A Step Above the Brink: Existentialism

In truth, we don’t have a way to measure the ‘goodness’ of our morals, especially without being biased by those same morals that have been fostered in us since birth. This excuse has often been made to defend passive ideologies like cultural relativism, and actions such as female circumcision in parts of Africa.

Existentialism is often confused with Nihilism for obvious reasons, both philosophies famously discredit all of our assumed virtues, by confronting them with hard logic and realism.

However slight, the difference be Existentialism and Nihilism is distinct. When faced with the void, Nihilism offers nothing to replace the meaning it subtracts from life, where Existentialism simply allows you to lower your standards of happiness to level that simply existing satisfies, ensuring a content life.

In our human quest to prove ourselves, to add meaning through competition and comparison, we are slowly poisoning the only source of known life in the Universe in the Earth. Because of our arrogance we have broken the natural order of how creatures should act in accordance to their ‘special purpose’.

A common philosophical theme, ‘special purpose’ is loosely, our reason for being in existence, and I would contend our purpose is to appreciate the ability to appreciate or existence.

The end goal was never something to accomplish in our lives, the end goal was to make it to a state of existence where you understand you exist.

Existentialism Has Changed How I Think About the World (Or Maybe Just College)

This week in class we were slapped in the face with the extreme nature of Existentialism. Both the philosophy, added to the jarring progression of Meursault’s character throughout The Stranger, gives a very intense image of the worldview. But, as I’ve been giving it some thought this week, some aspects of Existentialism could perhaps add a new perspective to our lives as we know it.

Personally, especially as we are moving into senior year, I think that many of us are acting far too concerned with the minor details. This may be a reflection of my own mindset but as I’ve been moving into the college application process (& related events) I’ve been extremely concerned with the tiny things. My mind has been packed with every single email I need to send and every single word I need to write instead of looking at the bigger picture. As we’ve continued through our week, this perspective I’ve been taking has moved to the forefront of my mind. And, maybe as a result of these past weeks lessons, I’ve started to question if this mindset is helping anyone? Although I don’t believe I’m going to become a full on existentialist, being able to internalize the concept that the little things, and evens some larger aspects of our lives, don’t actually hold as much worth or meaning as we think is calming. Yes, I could stress about the wording for a sentence in my common app essay, but how much does that really matter? Out of everything I’ve learned this week about existentialism, I think the thing that I’ve become more aware of is that how much something matters isn’t a fixed point but a scale. And, being aware of this scale has helped me prioritize what I let take up my mental energy, and therefore my life.

Is Finding Happiness in Punishment an Inevitability?

In “the Myth of Sisyphus”, Camus forms the argument that Sisyphus has found happiness within his eternity of pushing a rock up a hill. After finally letting go of his memories of life, he accepts his current situation and finds joy in completing the hard task of pushing the rock up the hill (even though it falls down again).

In the Stranger, Merseaux states that after he lets go of the pleasures of the past and adapts to prison, it is actually quite enjoyable. It takes a bit of time to adjust, but eventually he does.

The question I that I pose is: is finding this happiness an inevitability for everyone? If so, is finding that joy in punishment then just a matter of time?

I would argue that it is not an inevitability for everyone. Some people will never let go of the memories and pleasures that they used to enjoy. They will always reap in their belief that they should be somewhere else.

Is Mersault Just Crazy?

The Stranger, a novel by Albert Camus, has one of the most interesting, strange, analyzed characters in literary history, Monsieur Mersault. What separates him from the rest of the character world is his pessimistic viewpoint of life, that it is absurd for everyone and that its only certainty is death. He clearly lacks the basic morals and emotions the rest of the world has, not mourning the death of his mother and killing a man for no reason other than it was hot outside.

Many critics of the story would say that Mersault’s indifferent viewpoint on life is the key to true happiness, defeating the systems of social power brought upon us by our ancestors, seeing the book as Camus’ guide to lead a good life. But is it? Or is it a counter-example to how to lead a life? Imagine a world where killing people for no reason is common, nobody cares for relationships, and the only thing on people’s minds are death. There is no doubt that there is power in the morality system, shaming the people that are not able to control themselves, but is it not necessary to avoid chaos?

Monsieur Mersault is showing himself in the story to be a complete Nihilist, and a pessimistic one too, far away from the existentialist and the optimistic Nihilist. It is true what Mersault thinks, life really does not matter because we are all going to die, but it is not worth still living it to the fullest?Even if life does not matter, is it not a good idea to make it a better place? His actions in the novel, firing off at the priest at the end, killing the Arab without remorse, and showing no respect to women throughout (except for fulfilling his desires), all point to the behavior of an absolute sociopath that really does not care about anyone, not even himself.

Life might not matter at all because we are only here for a short time, but that does not mean people like Mersault should be around to ruin it for all of us. There might be systems of power Mersault is fighting with his strange viewpoint, but the ones he fight are the ones that keep evil and dullness from taking over the world. Camus in this story is showing the audience the extreme existentialism that could be dangerous and that sprouts from his teachings and is telling us not to be Mersault.

Why Do I Empathize With Meursault?

When I began this novella, I had an eerie feeling in my stomach. I could tell that something was disconnected about Meursault, but I was starting to wonder if there was something off with me. The problem was, I felt bad for Meursault. Even after his heinous murder, I felt a twinge of remorse for him. In his sun saturated state, I recognized the isolation of his character. After finishing part one, I was ready for a dynamic class conversation. I found it frightening that I kept coming to the aid of Meursault. I blatantly was defending him. How could I be so defensive of a character who had vouched for someone who had physically abused their partner? How could I defend someone who took the life of another without a second thought? How could I like a character who was more alarmed by the beads of sweat on his forehead rather than the passing of his own mother? I believe this sympathetic view didn’t stem from being an internalized sociopath, but instead emerged from something much different. At least I hope…

I honestly was jealous of Meursault’s carefree attitude. I began to empathize with him. Meursault was not confined by any social systems. He acted on his own pure will. High school students specifically are controlled by an array of power systems. Students have to conform to social standards that have been created by some unnamed force. At the same time, we are expected to pursue secondary education and find steady employment. We are expected to make all of these major life decisions as mere teenagers. Though only a few years ago, we weren’t allowed to operate a vehicle or even see a rated R movie on our own. The Stranger is such an impactful book to read in high school, because the absurdity of life that Camus recognized, seems to be bursting from the seems here. I will never concede that Meursault is a hero, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t learn from Camus’ message. My sympathy for Meursault is due to his understanding of life’s absurdity. Part of me believes his death represents the death of the greater population of individuals who died as outcasts of society. The other part of me recognizes the literal reasons for his death. Needless to say, I find my emotions toward Meursault frustrating and conflicting. Who knows, maybe I’m just a borderline sociopath.

The Dark Side of the Moon: The Greatest Existential Album of All Time

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

“Breathe, breathe in the air. Don’t be afraid to care. Leave, but don’t leave me. Look around and choose your own ground. For long you live and high you fly, and smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry, and all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” These are the first stanzas of ‘Breathe (In the Air),’ the first song on Pink Floyd’s existential masterpiece, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

A concept album is any album, particularly a rock album, featuring a cycle of songs expressing a theme or idea. “The Dark Side of the Moon,” often cited as one of the most important concept albums ever released, highlights the pressures of society which can ultimately drive someone mad.

While natural actions such as living and dying or simply breathing can have an effect on someones life, socially constructed “values” such as time and money are often falsely idolized and lack of these “values” can lead to even more pain and suffering.

In ‘Time,’ Pink Floyd provides a full explanation of what time is and the effects it can have on ordinary people. Like Meursault in Albert Camus’s “The Stranger,” sometimes people try to kill time whether out of boredom, depression, or hysteria. However, time moves in a way that it seems to get faster every day. So by killing time, Pink Floyd argues, you are essentially only killing yourself.

“Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way. The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.”

Although completely instrumental, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is an exact compilation of a lifetime. Starting softly and slowly, a piano begins to play and eventually a woman joins with an unforgettable shrieking. The shrieking and piano playing start to ramp up, getting louder, representing hope in young life. Eventually the shrieking and piano slow down again, but more and more overtime, reflecting adulthood and eventually old age. With 12 seconds left in the song, the music completely stops. Death.

While arguably the most popular song on the album, ‘Money’ analyzes the greatest false idol to man, one which can either leave you in a strong state of power or leave you rotting in a back alley somewhere, money. Songwriter Roger Waters writes that people believe money can lead to happiness, maybe by buying a new car, a Lear jet, or a football team. Though he quickly refutes that assumption calling money a gas, a crime, and the root of all evil today.

Those who have money are seen as selfish and those who don’t are seen as greedy. People will do anything to acquire more money if they are in need and if unsuccessful, one’s life could be ruined, making one feel like a failure. And eventually, as Pink Floyd argues, that failure can turn into madness.

In ‘Brain Damage’ Pink Floyd illustrates the total downfall of man. After running out of time, money, and breathe, one is driven insane, shortly leading to them to the after life, or as Pink Floyd puts it, the dark side of the moon.

Life and Death in Existentialism

I do not understand why life gives life purpose. As soon as Mr. Heidkamp said that in class, I questioned it. How can life give life purpose?

We as humans value our lives because we know that one day they will end. In some cases, people who know they are dying soon adopt and Existentialist point of view. In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer. After she is diagnosed, she realizes that she never really enjoyed life. She never smoked, drank, and always watched what she ate. Once she comes to this realization, she orders a dozen cakes to eat, shoplifts chocolate from the hospital gift shop, and gets drunk at a bar. She was motivated by death.

In the Percy Jackson book series, Percy is offered immortality by the gods at the end of the last book. To everyone’s surprise, he turns it down. He doesn’t want immortality because it would take away the value of life.

I think that death gives life meaning. Death motivates us to make the best use of our lives. If we never died, we would never value our life experiences because we would always be able to repeat them, and that does not seem like a life worth living to me.

Existentialism in Groundhog Day

All throughout Camus’ book, The Stranger, the main character Meursault has an outlook on life that stuns everyone he comes across, whether it be his girlfriend Marie or his lawyer when he is in prison. Despite how society views Meursault as a person, he refuses to change any of his beliefs, even when it ultimately leads to his death.

After reading the stranger, I began thinking of whether I have seen any examples of this kind of existentialism in other works. I was reminded of the movie Groundhog Day, where the main character, Phil Connors, is forced to repeat the same day over in a town that he mocks for celebrating Groundhog Day. Eventually after a while, Phil views time as a pointless construct that is just a repeated thing, day, and idea.

Further into the movie, Phil goes on to develop an existentialist point of view that is very similar to Meursault’s. He feels as if life itself is just repetitive, so as an individual he can do what he thinks. By the end of this movie though, Phil escapes the loop and finds love in a woman named Rita. This shift in the movie is what specifically contrasts with Meursault’s views on love and life. In The Stranger, Meursault simply just does not believe in loving Marie because it did not mean anything.

Although Phil Connors and Meursault have similar views at one point, they both end their stories going in two different directions, one being finding love through others and the other being that things like love and death are essentially meaningless.

Existentialism and “The Good Place”


“The Good Place” is set in a world where your afterlife is calculated by a complex point system determining if you spend eternity in The Good Place or The Bad Place (or in one very rare case the Medium Place). The show begins with certain demon, Michael, creating a special and revolutionary way to torture people without them even knowing – making them believe they are in the Good Place, but secretly make them miserable.

The selfish Eleanor Shellstrop is made to believe she has been placed by mistake when she is told about an amazing life she never led. Indecisive ethics professor Chidi becomes the confidant of Eleanor, and thus put in a stressful moral dilemma. Over-privileged and attention seeking Tahani is tortured by mentions of her overshadowing sister, and Floridian Jason is placed in the afterlife of a monk who has vowed silence.

However, one problem arises in Michael’s scheme: all 4 characters become better people and uncover that they are not in fact in the Good Place in every single simulation he runs. Micheal begins to see that maybe something isn’t wrong with his model, perhaps something is wrong with the system itself. Meanwhile, his boss, Shawn, finds out that he has been failing to torture the humans, and threatens to take away Michael’s immortality in court.

When faced with the possibility of death, Michael begins to question everything he is doing with his existence, and then the meaning of life itself in a full blown Existential Crisis.

Searching for meaning is philosophical suicide. How does anyone do anything when you understand the fleeting nature of existence?

Micheal, “The Good Place,” S2E4: Existential Crisis

Chidi, the ethics professor, seized this opportunity to explain that, yes the world is absurd and meaningless, but now that you know that, you are free to do whatever you want in this world. You can break free of the constructs in your life and create a new meaning for your existence.

In the end, Michael decides that since in the afterlife, everytime without fail, each ‘bad’ person became a good one, than maybe it wasn’t something wrong with the people, but something wrong with Earth. Taking away the complexities of the world, actions do not harbor any hidden consequences. Explained below by Michael to The Judge:

skip to 1:35 for the tomato example

Michael decides to commit his existence to changing the point system that is failing humanity in the afterlife. Thus, in this example, existentialism is not just a depressing realization that everything we think we know about life is meaningless, instead it is a means to reexamine what YOU want to do with your life, and not what society tells you to want. Existentialism allows Michael to be free from his constructed roll as a torturer, giving him a sense of true gratitude for his existence.

Existentialism in “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Throughout the unit of The Stranger and existentialism many of the characteristics that describe Meursault and other existentialists reminded me of George Bailey during some parts of the classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The indifferent and almost numb feeling that Meursault has is the same feeling George Bailey had when everything was spiralling out of control and going downhill for him. While maybe not as serious as Meursault, George Bailey has had a similar feeling of existentialism it just manifested differently. George believes that he doesn’t matter and that his life doesn’t really affect anyone else’s. Meusault believes he is useful to some people but doesn’t really have feelings or relationships with anyone. Both characters are missing a piece that helps them give meaning to their lives. Each of them represent different levels of existentialism.

But the way they deal with it pans out in a completely different way. The entire novel, Meursault is describing things with very little connection. He refuses to see the importance or meaning to many things. One could go through most of the book without seeing much change in how he views the world. It is easy to infer that he has always lived his life with a high level of detachment. It isn’t till the very end when we finally see him express some sort of emotion. The fact that Meursault remained indifferent up until he was about to be executed shows how much of an existentialist he really was. George Bailey was a little less extreme. He didn’t always live a somewhat sociopathic life like Mersault, but he did have a rough patch where he was starting to believe that nothing mattered. The difference with George is that he had an angel come down and help him realize that his life did have a purpose and that there is something for him to believe in. Both had moments of indifference which ultimately led them to a greater point realization.

Meursault’s Passivity Dies

During the novel, the narrator, Meursault, tends to passively agree with things people are asking. Whether he’s accepting Raymond’s proposal to write an angry letter to an ex-girlfriend or apathetically saying I love you to Marie, Meursault does what is wanted of him. 

While Meursault can be seen to have an existentialist mindset, he does not have a care for things that “normal” people have an opinion on. Even when his boss asks him to transfer to Paris as a promotion, Meursault has no ambition or passion about the promotion. His mindset towards traveling and job opportunities do not hold the same value as they would to a normal person, but he still accepts the offer. 

However, Meursault switches his passivity after being imprisoned for his murder.  When talking to his lawyer, Meursault couldn’t give him any insight to prove he wasn’t a callous human. Even when the lawyer asks if he can say that Meursault held back natural feelings, he rejects the proposal. 

Although Meursault continued to not hold the same values as the lawyer, like wanting to make a good case for himself, he wasn’t just submissively agreeing now. Meursault’s mindset of having to conform and value typical thing’s switched during his imprisonment and could be seen as his ultimate demise.

Existentialism and One of it’s Many Flaws

The problem with existentialism in my mind is the idea that all life is that nothing matters except for the fact that life is innately valuable. I strongly disagree with this premise as there are gaping holes in such an argument. Surely the life of Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. has more value than the life of Osama Bin Laden, or any of the most recent school shooters. If life is deemed valuable for the sake of being a life there is no morality, and with out morals we are no different from animals.

Our yearn to build is what makes us human, and the need to do it together is what puts us above other species. It is the friendships and relationships we form over time that make life worth living, and it is existentialism that deems all of that worthless.

Why “The Stranger” Should Inspire You

I am much more conscious about my life and how to make meaning in it because I have read “The Stranger” and you should be too. I think it is a very well-written story of what happens when you buy into existentialism. Obviously it is an extreme to say that all people who do will find themselves on death row. Because the positives of the idea of existentialism is to emphasize freedom of choice and pure independence to define meaning of life, it is only appropriate to consider the negatives of living this way. On page 35 Meursault thinks, “When she laughed I wanted her again. A moment later she asked me if I loved her. I said that sort of question had no meaning, really; but I supposed I didn’t.” He has chosen to disappoint her and reveal that he feels no connection to Marie and doesn’t feel he wants one.

This should encourage readers to be more sensible and understand that existentialism is hardly liberating but rather a guise of freedom. Choosing to not acknowledge roles or labels is not really a beneficial behavior. Having these roles that society has decided to recognize is healthy. It may mean less freedom in the traditional sense of the word but it allows people to be who they want and to live for what they want without this burden of individuality that existentialism brings on. This motivation to have roles and definitions is great and Albert Camus accidentally sheds light on this idea. To live thinking life has no purpose will lead one to live life without purpose. This is a dangerous way to live because that person may have fewer reasons to live life completely and for the right reasons.

Is it Possible to Become an Existentialist?

After reading Albert Camus’s The Stranger and “The Myth of Sisyphus”, I am left wondering if it is even possible to be able to develop a complete existentialist mindset. Existentialists reject societal fabrications such as the idea that social constructs such as family have meaning, and they believe that pain and suffering are the only sure things in life. Since most humans are brought up to believe in these very social constructs, it seems as if it would be nearly impossible to completely reject them, only to replace them with existentialist thought.

I acknowledge that Meursault from The Stranger certainly holds existentialist views. He constantly rejects the acceptance of common social norms, such as when he experiences little remorse after killing the Arab. However, it is important to understand that, first of all, Meursault is fictional. He is the result of Camus’s imagination, and I find it unlikely that anyone like him truly exists. Second, event though Meursault is fictional, he is still human. Humans are the so-called existentialists, but it is important to must remember that humans inherently make mistakes. Therefore, it is unlikely that it could be possible to completely let go of societal fabrications in favor of pure existentialist thought.

The myth of Sisyphus and Camus’s interpretation of Sisyphus’s story in “The Myth of Sisyphus” illustrates the idea that humans (in this case, Sisyphus), can change their outlook to reflect existentialist thought and therefore become more at ease with life. After Sisyphus adopts existentialist thought, Camus argues, he becomes less bogged down with his fate. However, as in the case of Meursault, Sisyphus is human. It is unlikely for him to reject all of his previous modes of thinking in favor of existentialist ideals, regardless of his situation.

Marie in Meursault’s Mind

Much of the meaning taken away from The Stranger is dependent on the character Meursault’s existentialist mindset, yet this mindset is broken down in many different scenarios as the book goes on. One aspect of Meursault that I struggled to grasp was his relationship with his girlfriend, Marie.

When reading quickly, it seems that Marie is a perfect example of Meursault’s existentialism, in that he seems very detached from her while they are together. When Marie asks if she loves him or if she wants to marry him, he says things like “it doesn’t make any difference” or “it doesn’t really matter” (page 41.) Similarly, when he is fantasizing about women in jail, he does not focus specifically on Marie but instead on “all the women he had known” (page 77.)

However, there are many times when he seems to break off from these thoughts. When she visits him in jail, he mentions how he “thought she looked very beautiful, but didn’t know how to tell her.” This is one of the few times Meursault doesn’t say what he is thinking in a blatant or logical way. Additionally, when he hears Marie laugh, he reacts differently and once even said after hearing that sound, “for the first time maybe, I really thought I was going to get married.” He doesn’t call it love, but it is a big change in his normal thoughts and tendencies.

I am not sure if these glimpses of emotion outweigh his existentialist-mindset, but there is definitely some part of Meursault that has not been consumed by existentialism.