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.

2 thoughts on “Marie in Meursault’s Mind

  1. RYAN M

    I noted that the visit seemed to be a humanizing moment for Meursault when I was reading it, but I couldn’t decide if it was consistent with his existentialism. The idea that Marie shows this inconsistency in him in interesting because I always thought of her character as a way for Camu to highlight Meursault’s existential tendencies.

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  2. Leah J

    I also believe that there may be a part of Meursault that has not been consumed by existentialism that is shown through his relationship with Marie. I find it interesting how he insists that he does not love her and that it is meaningless, but often thinks about her and holds his tongue when it comes to telling her simple things such as that “she looks beautiful”.

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