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.

5 thoughts on “Why “The Stranger” Should Inspire You

  1. JENNA S

    I really enjoyed your take away from the book. I also rethought the value I place on relationships and roles in my life. Although I do see the benefit of conforming and accepting these social norms, I also enjoy stepping outside of myself to analyze where we put our attention in life. While I don’t live my life existentially, I think it’s an interesting thought process to explore.

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    1. Rachel M

      I think you make some really good points, and I like your take on the book as a whole. When you referenced the extremes that Camus wrote about, that really resonated with me. In many ways, I feel that Camus set himself up for failure. By writing such an isolationist and polarized character, the existential ideologies are jeopardized. Existentialism is suddenly associated with apathy and aggression.

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  2. Leah J

    I very much agree with what you’ve written. I think that reading the stranger has put an emphasis on the relationships and structures I find valuable in life that are healthy and important. Because of his existentialist views, Meursault ends up having no one in the end.

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  3. Katie V.

    I agree with you. I think individualism is a good thing but it can be taken to an extreme, an extreme I think Mersault goes to. We can’t just jump ship and leave all social constructs and relationships behind. They may constrain us but without them (most of us) we will be lonely and society will breakdown. That being said I think that for some people the solitude inherent in total individualism may be what makes them most content, but for the vast majority, a lack of meaningful relationships would be extraordinarily painful.

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  4. Kirsten K

    I agree while reading the book it helped me understand and appreciate the important parts of my life. It helped me understand certain values and the meaning they give. It gave me an insight into what it would be like without those connections and how it would affect my life.

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