How “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads connects to “The Stranger”

The song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads was released in 1980 and is centered around the idea that life keeps moving you along with no explanation. The verse “Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/Letting the days go by, water flowing underground” is not only repeated throughout the song but also represents that as days go by the forces(water) will keep you moving. Also in the song, there are questions such as “Well, how did I get here?” or “Am I right, am I wrong?”. These questions represent the unknowingness of life and how random it is. In the story “The Stranger”, many bad things such as death and conviction happen to Meursault and he just accepts it as life and keeps moving on. He asks question such as “I thought how peculiar she was?”, but then follows it by saying “but forgot about her a few minuetes later”. This shows that he understands that life is random and there is no time or way to stop the flow and ask irrational questions with no answer. Another example from the stranger is when Meursault is in prison and is refelcting on the tradgic times of his life. He begins to accept his fate after he screamed at the chaplain and was going to die happy even though many people hated him. He again realized that the flow of life can’t be stopped and there is no way to prevent his death.

How the Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger Connect

In The Myth of Sisyphus written by Albert Camus, Sisyphus is condemned to the punishment of pushing a rock up a hill and then watching it roll back down when it gets to the top of the hill, and doing that over and over again. However, throughout his time doing this task over and over again, he has found his happiness because he found his purpose, as long as he keeps pushing the boulder up the hill, he has achieved his purpose. Sisyphus is aware of his future and his fate. Similarly, in The Stranger also written by Albert Camus, Mersault, the main character is put in jail after killing someone. Throughout the story, we see how Mersault shows no empathy. When Mersault is in prison, during an outburst with the chaplain, he realizes that he no longer has freedom. However, he is happy because he accepts his fate.

Both Mersault and Sisyphus are in a lifetime of punishment where they have no freedom. However, they are both happy because they accepted their fate and know what lies in their future. They both found happiness in the situation that they were in. Both stories show the theme of existentialists of meaning and absurdity.

Camus’ Argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” Seen in “The Stranger”

Albert Camus’ argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” is that one can rise above their fate if one accepts it. In context, Sisyphus is repeatedly struggling to push the rock up the mountain, but when it falls back down, he is free from his burden and reflects that his struggle will not get him anywhere. Camus also argues that fate is only bad if people have hope, meaning that if people don’t think there is a better alternative then they can be at peace with their fate in life. In terms of Sisyphus, he knows he is struggling in his situation and accepts that struggle, therefore his punishment could only be bad if he has hope. Camus essentially believes that happiness and absurd awareness are connected and that humans can only be happy when they accept their life and true fate. Therefore, Sysphus is happy because he has accepted his struggle in his eternal fate and has risen above this fate, meaning he can be happy. Camus stating “[o]ne must imagine Sisyphus happy” also shows that he believes humans must be able to be happy through experiences without the reliance on hope or faith because Sisyphus has experienced happiness through his true experiences and accepted his fate. 

In Camus’ novel “The Stranger,” I noticed his argument about Sisyphus was applied to the narrator of the book, Meursault. At the very end of the novel, when Meursault is sentenced to death, he takes a lot of his time to think and reflect. He goes back and forth with himself, trying to decide if he should request an appeal of his sentence. He concludes that everyone is going to die anyway, so he decides to accept the rejection of his appeal. His mind believes that only after accepting that rejection, he can even consider the alternative of him being pardoned. After re-reading this section of “The Stranger,” I realized that Camus’ argument about Sisyphus having to accept his fate to be happy in life applies to Meursault while he is consulting with himself in jail because Meursault is setting himself up to not have any hope, and therefore cannot be disappointed.