Meursault’s Actions, Nature of The Sun, and Free Will

I do not believe that Meursault’s character simply exists to be observed as a sociopathic, apathetic, and reprehensible individual, but rather an indivual afflicted with a condition that anyone is subject to when put in a certain situation: the realization of a lack of control. Meursault understands his lack of control, this universal lack of control, and so he lives his life as he does, as an indifferent, but rather content individual. He is content in this fact, in this knowledge that he is powerless. It is comforting to believe oneself to be free from concious impulse, accountability, or reasonable judgement. For if one lacks control, no rational individual can cast judgement on one who does not have any ability to control themselves. This person sans control is consigned to a societal outcast, just as Meursault is. I believe that Meursault believes and finds comfort in his understanding of his lack of control and his rational conclusion that he is impervious to any blame and how this allows for him to live a fulfilling and content life.

Meursault is subject only to nuture and nature, just as we all are. He has no control over his indifference, that is how he is. He has no control over his experience or reaction to the sun. He has no control over the thoughts that pop into his head, just as we do not, as what manifests itself in one’s mind, even though one may claim thoughts to be one’s own, are not created by a concious choice. His nurture, the death of his mother, his childhood, are all out of his control. His reaction to these events, or any event, is not by choice. His character is formed by phenomena outside of his control and his response to phenomena are governed by his thoughts, and as thoughts arise in ones mind, not through will, but by the whim of a mind conditioned by phenomenal experience, Meursault has no free will, just as we all do not. Meursault is no difference than us, he just accepts this lack of control. He does not attempt to pretend that he has control, as many of us claim to. The only difference between us and Meursault, is that we have not accepted that life is not in our control. Meursault has. If Meursault had a choice, would he have shot the Arab, as this, of course, will probably cause him great trouble in the future? Does the word choice of “[t]he trigger gave” (59) imply any sense of agency in Meursault? No, it does not. The sun is a natural occurrence, and how we can hope to have any control over the sun? We cannot control the sun, we cannot control that we are prone to follow its cycle to rest and rise. We are condemned to follow nature, which we cannot control. The sun in the story is a representation of untamable nature and its effects on us, and is therefore the antithesis of free will.

And so, I believe the sun made Meursault shoot the Arab. And I believe the sun is uncontrollable nature, and so it is the antithesis of free will. I believe that the only difference between us and Meursault is how much agency we believe that we have. And while many would argue that a lack of free will strips meaning from life, Meursault’s indifference to this fact is precisely what allows him to live contently, to enjoy life, and to live fully. While Meursault may not consiously understand this fact, I believe that he unconsiouly understands that he is not in control of his life, and this is what frees him from the hardships of life. And finally, this is why I believe many people in our class believe that Meursault is a societal outcast, when he is in the very same scenario that we are all in, subject to the same whims of nature which cannot be controlled.

One thought on “Meursault’s Actions, Nature of The Sun, and Free Will

  1. HAYDN M

    I think this is a very interesting perspective. I was very intrigued by the idea that one cannot judge another who has no ability to control themselves. This would mean that Meursault could not be judged for his actions because he does not control them. However, is there a distinction between one not being in control of their life, and one not being in control of themselves. I argue that even if you cannot fully control what happens to you, you can still control how you react to it and therefore Meursault can be judged for his actions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s