Meaning of Life in “The Stranger”

The story opens with Mersault, the main character, realizing his mother is dead. His tone is indifferent, as he seems he hasn’t processed his mother’s death: “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe. I don’t know. I got a telegram from home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow…” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday” (chapter 1) This quote highlights the lack of emotionality of the main character by showing that he believes death and life are not big deals, which is also seen later in the book.

In chapter 3, Mersault’s idea that life is meaningless carries over to his relationships. He becomes friends with Raymond, his employer, and states that he does things for him because there’s no reason not to: “I tried… to please Raymond because I didn’t have any reason not to please him”. Because Mersault does not see life as having a meaning, he blindly pleases people because he believes there is no reason not to. This idea is expressed again in chapter 4 when he is talking to Mari when she asks him if he loves her: “I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so”. By stating that love doesn’t mean anything, he is again showing his nonchalant tone towards life that it is meaningless. If life does not have a purpose, neither does love or any other emotion in the human experience.

One thought on “Meaning of Life in “The Stranger”

  1. rory h

    I agree with your analysis on the meaning of life throughout The Stranger, Meursault feels there is no meaning of life which is a very strange way to live in my opinion,

    Like

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