Living in the Absurd

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, it is clear from the beginning how disengaged Meursault may live. Although many see this behavior as a dissatisfaction with one’s present condition, I believe Meursault is actually fine with how he experiences his life.

]Similar to Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, Meaursault has accepted the inevitable absurdity of life. He realizes that as an individual we confront binary choices, “It was then that I realized you either shoot or not shoot” (56), and points out the futility in it all, “To stay or to go , it amounted to the same thing”. As Meaursault welcomes the idea that his actions become meaningless it allows the complete unpredictability and peculiar elements of life to seem perfectly normal. This is shown a bit through the encounter with the woman who was eating at Celeste’s.

This brief anecdote is placed randomly within the text where it becomes a total tangent from what Meaursault was previously talking about. Meaursault was first describing a physical connection with Marie when he immediately transports himself to Celeste’s, “I had dinner at Celeste’s. I’d already started eating when a strange little woman came in and asked me if she could sit at my table” (43). Throughout the paragraph, Meaursault depicts the odd behaviors of the woman as she computes her bill, writes down the radio programs of the week, and displays robot-like movements during dinner. Meaursault, in total observation, decides to follow her out of the restaurant then says, ” I thought about how peculiar she was but forgot about her a few minutes later” ( 44). The book then takes the reader back into the flow of the story as Meaursault encounters Salamano. However, going back to the experience with the woman, what was the point? What does this encounter mean and is there any significance to the story as a whole? I’m not sure. Though, I do know it says something about Meaursault’s acceptance of the oddities of life.

2 thoughts on “Living in the Absurd

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