Has Meursault Always Been Like This?

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.”

Red Pill or Blue Pill?

What does it mean to be real? According to the concept of existentialism, all our material objects and worldly attachments are all mere illusions that cloud the true meaning of life. All these social constructs have been created through struggles of power and wealth and have been maintained in our society to control people. In the absence of some of these constructs, perhaps the world would be a better place, but is there not value in some of these things that Camus and other existentialists call illusions?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you were to take the leap of faith and believe fully in the values of existentialism. You would leave the world behind and say goodbye to your family, friends, and possessions, and live purely independently. If you lived free of outside perspective and societal pressures, you would probably be happy. However, I argue that we have been conditioned to live in our illusion of a society, and the existentialist lifestyle would not be very appealing. Would the happiness come from working hard and living an independent fulfilling life, or would it come from the fact that you are not living in an illusion anymore. In other words, is it better to be blissfully ignorant, or suffering in a life that is real? In the end, if life is really whatever you make it to be, as Camus says, then who is to say which is the real world and which is the illusion.

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