Absurdity In The Eyes of The Reader

Mersault’s character is direct; he sees things how they are without reading into anything, finding meaning in anything, or expressing any real emotion. His view of life is, to say the least, unusual. Though he appears this way to the reader at first glance, his actions suggest a deeper humanity that other characters cannot see in him.

When he is in the midst of his examination Mersault reflects on the clerks’s menaing of life: “That was his belief, and if he were ever to doubt it, his life would become meaningless. ‘Do you want my life to be meaningless?’ he shouted…. But from across the table he had already thrust the crucifix in my face and was screaming irrationally, ‘I am a Christian. I ask Him to forgive you your sins. How can you not believe that He suffered for you?'” (Camus 69).

The clerk defines his life’s meaning based on Christianity, and is utterly confused when he realizes Mersault does not have even an inkling of belief; the thin reality the clerk holds onto threatens to crumble and he grow irrational and terrified.

Mersault is confusing and absurd to other characters, but Camus frames him in this way for that exact reason: to make not only other characters, but the reader uncomfortable. He is meant to make one rethink the constructs of life and recognize that everyone has different definitions of a life well lived, and that meaning must come from a place deep enough that it cannot be so easily unravelled.

One thought on “Absurdity In The Eyes of The Reader

  1. Aaron Q.

    Camus definitely builds Meursault’s character by bouncing him off of other, more archetypal characters. The clerk is completely defined by his Christianity and Camus uses him to comment on religion and how it fits into an absurdist theory. Similarly, Marie’s main goal in the story that is given is her want to be in a marriage, which she pursues despite her potential fiancé’s not loving her.
    I find it interesting how from one point of view, the story suggests the reader to rethink their values in life, meanwhile in the story these characters do the opposite. Where the clerk should think about his faith, he turns away from Meursault and becomes emotionless. Where Marie should consider her future, she blindly forwards her relationship with Meursault. These actions are objectively unrealistic I think, and help emphasize Meursault’s philosophy and lifestyle.

    Like

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