If Life Doesn’t Matter, Then Why Try

In Camus’ The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault is portrayed as a carefree, apathetic person who seems to float through life without giving attention to anything, including himself. Meursault is a prime example of an existentialist who finds no meaning in anything.

The first incident of this is in the beginning of the novel when Meursault’s mother passes away, and Meursault shows a severe lack of emotion about his mother, and treats his life as if nothing happened. He continues by getting with one of his former co-workers, Marie, with whom he hooks up with multiple times and shows no care for. She even asks him if he loves her, and he straight up says no. Another example is when he notices Salamano abusing his dog, and he continues to stay friends with him, despite the socially unacceptable actions. Additionally, Meursault is friends with Raymond, who is believed to be a pimp and has beaten his mistress. Meursault even tries to bail Raymond out and eventually kills for him. Finally, when Meursault is in prison, he comes to the realization that it doesn’t really matter if he is executed, because his life will be no different than if he dies of old age. Meursault understands that his life is pointless no matter the outcome or his actions, so he might as well just try to be happy.

One thought on “If Life Doesn’t Matter, Then Why Try


    I agree with this take on “The Stranger” and existentialism. Meursault seems to almost form no close bonds with others as well. He clearly had his mother’s (and his own) best interests in mind when putting his mother into a home even though she did not want to be put in a home. Meursault could not afford to take care of her and he believed that this was the best and most logical option, with mostly positive outcomes, for both of them. Even in his relationship with Marie, he never seems to get past the physical aspects of the relationship. He knows he cares a lot about her, but he struggles when Marie asks if he loves her. But even with his lack of emotional connections to others, he is able to be happy by the end of the book.


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