Why Doesn’t Meursault Care?

In chapters 1-6 of The Stranger, the main character, Meursault, is indifferent about life. In the first sentence of the book by Albert Camus, Meursault says, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know” (1). This quotation illustrates how Meursault doesn’t express emotion at the death of his own mother. It also alienates him from society because most people would be very sad if that happened to them, and he doesn’t express their typical shared emotion. Another instance where Meursault shows indifference can be found on page 41. Meursault says, “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her.” When Marie asks Meursault if he loves her, he says no and it doesn’t mean anything to him. This is super sad for Marie and she is confused as to why he answers this way. From these two quotations, we can conclude that Meursault doesn’t care much about life, but why? On page 41, Meursault reflects, “Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered.” The previous quotation doesn’t fully explain Meursault’s attitude, but it helps us to understand his position. After his studies, he became less ambitious and was unmotivated at work. This is not a full explanation, but it helps the reader to better realize why the protagonist is indifferent.

3 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Meursault Care?

  1. Najda HSJ

    Yes, it’s so weird to see Mersault be indifferent to the things that we are told matter most in life. I wonder what specifically shifted his perspective when he was in his studies. It’s interesting to know that Mersault didn’t grow up with this indifference, but it is something that he learned.


  2. Lily M

    I agree with what you are saying here. I think it says a lot about Meursault as a person that he does not care about big life events like his mom passing away. His lack of emotion towards subjects like death and love makes him seem almost cold and mean. I feel bad for Marie since she wants to marry Meursault which will inevitability result in an unhappy marriage as he is unable to express any real emotion.


  3. Kianna G.

    Meursault is definitely emotionally detached. Him not knowing or caring what day his mother died and not caring about marriage alienates him from society and highlights his static feelings. Mersault doesn’t really show signs of grief over his mother at all in the story either. I also wonder why he is so emotionless, the author hints at it with Meursault’s studies but hasn’t fully told us.


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