After finishing The Stranger, I couldn’t help wondering how Meursault had gone so long without realizing how different he was from most people. He mentions that he could tell everyone in the courtroom hated him, and he said this with such surprise as if he has never been critiqued on his behavior or outlook towards life. If Meursault is viewed by the prosecutor and the jury as being soulless and lacking of all moral principles, then how has he gone on living his life as just another functioning member of society.
It is almost as if the moment the book begins, is the moment Meursault starts behaving like an existentialist. Meursault killed a person for almost no reason at all, and felt little to no remorse for his violent actions. How are we to believe that this is the first pointless/reckless malevolent action. In other words, how can a man who was deemed horrible enough to be put to death also live among other “normal” people undetected as a sociopath. Did nobody notice that Meursault literally does not feel empathy or emotional attachment to those around him? So the question becomes: has Meursault always been living as an existentialist regardless of whether or not he is aware of it? The question certainly seems open for debate, but I argue that yes, he has always had an aptitude for being present and accepting his current situation. As for his childhood, I imagine he was not as verbal about his views and did not commit any reckless acts that would cause others to notice his differences the way they do in the novel. Maybe he was able to stay out of trouble because “it just happened that way.”