Who is the ‘Robot Woman’ from The Stranger?

After having read and discussed The Stranger, for an extended period of time, one character that has stood out to me is the ‘Robot Woman’ from the restaurant, and later, the trial. While both keep to themselves, the contrast between them is striking. One instance that stood out to me was when she sat across from Meursault at the restaurant. He recounts how she “ordered her whole meal all at once, in a voice that was clear and very fast at the same time. While she was waiting for her first course, she opened her bag, took out a slip of paper and a pencil, added up the bill in advance, then took the exact amount, plus tip, out of a vest pocket and set it down on the table in front of her” (43). While she seems to have everything figured out for her, in meticulous detail, none of that makes her any more satisfied or better off than anyone else.

Although it cannot be said that she tries to conform to societal systems like love or religion, every action in itself seems to follow a routine. The purposelessness of her routine parallels the futility of clinging to societal systems, and similarly, she doesn’t have any more control over her life than anyone else– she can’t stop Meursault from following her after her meal. However, she is so different from any normal person that she too is an outsider like Meursault. In effect, I feel the ‘Robot Woman’ gives Meursault a binary that he can define himself against, something that represents everything he is not. As a result of their differences, it is likely that Meursault is more content with his life as he doesn’t try to change his circumstances in any way, while the ‘Robot Woman’ is bound to her never-ending routine. 

Is Maria from Trust an Existentialist?

The movie Trust follows a teenage girl, Maria, after she is thrown out of her house. In the story, she meets a man named Matthew Slaughter and starts to dress and act differently. The two of them begin a relationship that would be considered pedophilia because Matthew is in his thirties while Maria is only seventeen. Putting that aside, the movie presents themes of existentialism. However, it is a little unclear whether or not Maria would be considered an existentialist.

In the book The Stranger, we get the perfect existentialist character, Meursault. He doesn’t let social constructs weigh him down and enjoys all of life by living in the moment. At the beginning of Trust, it is pretty clear that Maria would not be considered an existentialist. She is concerned with style, makeup, and love. She intends to marry her football player boyfriend, who got her pregnant. It is presented that she wants nothing more than to be married in life. However, when she meets Matthew, her appearance and priorities change. While some may consider this as her becoming an outsider to society, I don’t think her changing is specifically because she’s becoming an existentialist. Matthew is the one to provide her with new wardrobe and glasses. Even though with the new attire she would be considered an outsider, because Matthew told her to wear it would not necessarily be an existentialist move. Also, at one point in the movie, she asks Matthew if he loves her. He tells her that he admires and respects her, but does not think that mean love. Maria is still concerned with love and trying to find someone who will take a romantic interest in her. If that is something that she is actively working for in life, she would not be considered an existentialist.

All in all, I believe Mattew would be considered an existentialist, but by forcing that way on Maria, she would not be an existentialist. Exitentialism is a idea that one developes naturally. By forcing these ideas on Maria, she would not be an existentialist.

Meursault is The Villain, not The Hero.

Meursault is a murderer. A murderer!! I feel like this fact got lost throughout the story and class discussion of the theme. But Meursault is literally a horrible person. Yes, he may have discovered how to “unlock the key to happiness”, but at what cost? I agree that there is much to be impressed about Meursault and the way he lives his life, however, let’s not take it too far. The line between existentialism and sociopathy is not that thick. What I mean by this is although Meursault is able to be content by the end of the novel, the philosophy he embraced to accomplish this ultimately was harmful to those around him. Meursault is incapable of acknowledging the feelings of others. The most obvious case is the Arab whom he shot not once but four separate times. And what about the religious man whom he brought to tears at the end of the novel? It is these instances that suggest Meusault embraced his philosophy a little too much. I think it is okay to live as Meursault does but with the condition that you are careful not to inflict your practices on other people as Meursault does. Camus writes the novel encouraging sympathy for Meursault from the readers as it is beyond Meursault’s ability to act any different. Also because the story is told from Meursault’s perspective, we are given more insight into his thought process and ultimately made to feel as if we understand him more. But if we did not have all this insight, the simple circumstances surrounding the murder would lead most to conclude Meursault is just plain evil. Although I fell victim to what Camus tried to do as I did feel sympathetic towards Meursault, after much reflection I have concluded he is in fact a murderer and did deserve the death he got…unpopular opinion?

Indifference in The Stranger and Exit West

In The Stranger, the main character, Meursault, has a lack of care for relationships in his life which leads him to unintentionally harming those around him. Meursault’s indifference towards life is similar to the way the main character in Exit West, Saeed, views life.

Although Saeed does care for his partner, Nadia, and his parents, he has little care for life itself. Saeed’s city is in the middle of a war and destruction is all around him, touching almost every area of his life. However, he has yet to realize the true horror of war until his mother passes away due to the fighting.

“In times of violence, there is always that first acquaintance or intimate of ours, who, when they are touched, makes what had seemed like a bad dream suddenly, evisceratingly real”(31).

The war in Saeed’s city became even more real after the death of his mother. However, his reaction to his mother’s death was shockingly small. Readers are left wondering what happened, wondering what Saeed’s reaction was and what his father’s reaction was. However, the author, Mohsin Hamid, did not give readers what they desired. Hamid strategically leaves the readers desiring a sense of closure to show what the war had done to Saeed and his emotions, or lack thereof.

This is similar to the way The Stranger portrays Meursault. From the beginning of the book, Meursault isn’t emotionally attached to anything or anyone. He, similarly, has little to no reaction when his mother dies.

New Perspective on The Stranger

Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger, follows the timeline of the death of Meursault’s mother to his execution. The first part of the book was extremely difficult to read because of how boring I found him. He spoke in concise and simple sentences, yet his disregard for everyone and the events that surrounded him created a disconnect and frustration within me. Nabokov would argue that this is a good thing – as I wasn’t able to relate and was forced to look at the story objectively, however, I would disagree.

My attitude towards the book changed once we had a discussion in class and I was better able to understand Meursault’s outlook on life. I found that I agreed with some of his points to a certain extent. Social constructs are everywhere in our daily lives so when someone deviates from or challenges them they are deemed a stranger or an outsider. The Stranger illustrates a person who experiences similar events to others but differs drastically in how he reacts.

Is Meursault truly happy?

In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger Meursault the main character thinks vastly different than the average person in society does. He does not value relationships, emotions and bonds the same most of us do. He doesn’t put as much meaning in relationships and lives his life without trying to create them. We see this with Marie who wants to further her relationship with Meursault while he does not want what he thinks are pointless ideas of love and marriage. While there are good parts of his way of life like him being able to live in the moment and cope with difficult situations there are downsides to his ideology.

To many outsiders like those at the funeral and pastor at jail he seems sociopathic. He is apathetic to almost everything, has littler motivation and drive and does not connect with others.

I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone” (123).

If one has to question if ones is happy and only says yes so, they feel less alone, are they happy? I don’t believe that Meursault is happy, and he realized in prison he truly isn’t but as to not admit his life was wasted, he claims he was. He just simply lived one day to the next hardly striving for anything and didn’t have anyone. While some may claim that these ideas are concepts to most, they do bring true happiness. Most people would not be happy if they were in Meursault’s position, and I believe Meursault was not either