Is Meursault an existentialist?

Existentialism is the concept of individual freedom, choice, and control over one’s destiny. In The Stranger, Meursault remains an amoral character. He doesn’t display strong feelings toward anything. This behavior separates Meursault from the existentialist because they have an interest in ethics and morality. Existentialists do not believe that morality and belief systems are required. However, many existentialist still choose to develop their moral compass and exercise it through freedom and choice. Meursault doesn’t seem to be interested in “correctness” at all. Whether it is society’s rule or his own opinions, Meursault doesn’t care. He is like an inanimate leaf floating through life on a gust of wind. His lack of choice represents the opposite approach that many early existentialists advocated. In part 1 of the novel, Meursault is the result of simply living to stay alive and responding to any immediate discomfort. To the reader, he appears lost, causing us to consider what gives us purpose? An existentialist would say that Meursault’s life matters because he has it, but would Meursault agree? 

A Lesson

ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin.

The way that Miss Moore feels the need to separate herself from the community rubs Sylvia the wrong way. It doesn’t help that the lessons that Miss Moore teaches don’t make the most sense to Sylvia, so her constant nonsensical blabber surrounding topics that Sylvia doesn’t even care about makes her even less likable. Sylvia says, ” she’s boring us silly about what things cost and what our parents make and how much goes for rent and how money ain’t divided up right in this country” (4). Even though Sylvia doesn’t like Miss Moore, it is clear that all of the children gain some perspective at the toy store. At the end of the story, Sugar reveals what she has learned from their adventure. She says, “You know Miss Moore, I don’t think all of us here put together eat in a year what that sailboat costs”(49). Sugar’s revelation can help the reader further understand the conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore. The issue is that one educated person, one teacher, cannot undo the systematic oppression and economic disparity stacked up against these kids. Sylvia doesn’t like Miss Moore because Sylvia is not trying to decode the system but just trying to live in it. Sylvia’s greatest weakness is her lack of desire to think critically about things that don’t interest her. Miss Moore pushes Sylvia out of her comfort zone and asks her questions that she can’t answer. However, Sylvia begins to understand she is being slighted by the world around her. At the end of the story, Sylvia says, ” to think this day though… ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin”(56). Revealing that Miss Moore’s lesson worked, Sylvia understands more about her place in their society and she wants to do something about it.

Abnesti’s Prison

Abnesti’s interactions with the patients provided another layer of complexity in Escape from Spider Head. Throughout the story when speaking with his patients Abnesti highlights his acts of kindness, especially when he is committing an act that seems inhumane and heartless. It can be concluded that for Jeff, Spiderhead represents his mental prison of guilt. For Abnesti, I think that Spiderhead represents his mental prison which stems from his inability to sympathize with others. On page 72, in regards to Heather’s death, Abnesti says, “I hated it. I’m a person. I have feelings.” Then later on page 73, he contradicts this statement with an emotionless and factual response to Jeff when Jeff asks if Rachel could die. Abnesti says, “Is it possible that the Darkenfloxx will kill Rachel? Sure. We have the Heather precedent.” This juxtaposition is used often in the story, and it emphasizes Abnesti’s use of manipulation to cover up his emotional downfalls. He is trapped in his commitment to “the mandates of science”(74). Abnesti cannot see the prisoners as people because of his own mental prison within Spider Head.