Finding the Meaning in Nothing

When beginning to read The Stranger by Albert Camus, I had a hard time recognizing the point or the purpose of this story. I mean, it’s really hard to recognize considering Meursault’s extremely surface level attitude towards everything, including his mother’s death. During his trial, the director of the home Maman was in said, “He had been surprised by [Meursault’s] calm the day of the funeral” and that “[He] hadn’t wanted to see Maman, [he] hadn’t cried once, and that [he] left right after the funeral without paying [his] last respects at her grave” (Camus, 89). It might just be the way Meursault deals with grief, but to be honest, his inability to express his emotions not only confused me, but made me a little angry.

I think the fact that I was so mind boggled by Meursault’s response to usually emotion evoking events made me neglect what the book is trying to get across: is there any meaning to life? Honestly, I find this to be a frustrating theme. I like things to be very cut and dry, so the fact that I have to use my own opinion and figure it out myself isn’t my favorite part of reading this book. However, as Camus says in “The Myth of Sisyphus”, “Myths are made for the imagination to breathe into them”. In the case of The Stranger, I believe the same applies. We as readers have to breathe imagination into this book and form our own opinions on the meaning of life.

6 thoughts on “Finding the Meaning in Nothing


    I completely agree with your thoughts on “The Stranger”. It was very difficult for me to understand how Meursault did not show even the slightest bit of sadness at his mother’s funeral. However, I do understand that everyone grieves differently but, nonetheless Meursault does not even appear to be griefing. I thought it was frustrating that he moved on with his life the day after the funeral.



    I agree with your explanation, additionally i believe that the majority of us expect a certain expression for each standard emotion and like you said about being angry at him for not reacting, we are disturbed by anything that seems unusual to us. We have been taught that this is how you react in certain situations and if an individual does not comply they are seen as weird or even rude. Meursaults ability to reject the social expectation of emotional response shows that although he might seem shallow from the outside, he might have a certain level of understanding of himself that we dont have yet.



    I agree with your response because this is the exact way I felt after reading it. I usually do not want to think too hard to find the meaning of a story when I am reading a book, although “The Stranger” has made me think differently. As I have been deep in my thoughts throughout the past week while reading the stranger, I have been thinking more about my life and its meaning more now than ever. Even our talk in class about the real meaning of life has me thinking what is important and what is not worth my time. This is why I totally agree that the theme itself is quite frustrating. Meursault does make different choices on how he grieves, but everyone grieves in different ways. In some ways I see why he was not too sad at his mother’s funeral, but at the same time I do not know if I would be able to hold it together if I was in his place.



    I totally agree with the frustrated feelings you are having. This book really gets on my nerves at times and I don’t get why it’s not more clear about certain things. The power of this book truly does come from personal imagination and interpretation. I am struggling a bit with this book because I don’t want to think that much deeper. But if I decide to consider the bigger world context of it, I would probably enjoy it more.


    1. Maggie Rose B

      I agree with your thoughts on this. It was irritating to read “The Stranger” and for major events to happen with very little reaction from Meursault. I hadn’t thought of the underlying meanings of the book much before reading this post, and to be honest, I hadn’t really realized there was an underlying meaning; I just thought it was a boring book that was frustrating to read. Going forward, I think I’ll try to dig a little deeper and understand more of what the book is really trying to get across to the reader.


  5. Ella S

    Just like everyone above me, I agree with your response to how Meursault reacted. I agree with Maggie Rose who commented above me that I hadn’t really thought about an underlying meaning about the book. I think the main reason why I’m so confused/angered with Meursault is because we know so little about him. I feel like I have so many questions about him and none of them are being answered.


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