The Afterlife

A lingering question among generations continues to be, “What happens after death?” and so he prayed as a lament, as a consolation, and as a hope” (203). Some say we go to heaven or hell and some say we are reincarnated into other organisms. Both of these theories are based on different religions, reincarnation originating from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and heaven coming from Christianity. Simultaneously, nonreligious people believe there isn’t one and we just decompose into the Earth, while life moves on. What if there was another thought of the afterlife? What if our loved ones keep us alive after we die? Whether it’s through prayer or memories, we continue to flourish despite our loss of breath.

In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid narrates the experience of losing a loved one as the uniting of humanity, “the temporary nature of our being-ness, and our shared sorrow” (203). Heartache affiliated with death unifies communities because everyone experiences it at least once in their lifetime. Some people go to funerals, some have services, and some pray; ways to heal from the pain of losing a loved one. Saeed prays for his parents, “as a gesture of love for what had gone and would go and could be loved in no other way… he prayed as a lament, as a consolation, and as a hope” (203). Prayer is utilized as a coping mechanism for Saeed’s grief over the death of his parents, specifically his father. “Young men pray for the goodness of the men who raised them, and Saeed was very much a young man of this mold” (202).

Saeed’s father’s soul continues to exist through Saeed’s prayer. He remains alive.

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

Camus’ argument states that there is no meaning to life, but life is worth living if one accepts that condition. I agree with the reading of the Myth of Sisyphus because Sisyphus had no option but to repeat the torturous cycle of pushing the rock up the mountain and having it roll back down. What would be the point in being unhappy or fighting it? It’s not going to change, so might as well find an acceptance in his position and allow himself to become happy with it. Also, in The Stranger, Mersault goes to prison after shooting the man. Does he have a choice whether he can stay or leave jail? No. Mersault recognizes this and finds ways to be content with his position in life, no matter the circumstance. The same goes for society as a whole.

The idea that the meaning of life is to live makes sense because the denotation of “life” is “the period between the birth and death of a living thing, especially a human being,” which literally means to live. There are things that contribute to the meaning of our lives, but they do not define the meaning of life as a whole.

I like the mantra, “Everything happens for a reason,”; not because it gives me a purpose, but because it helps me accept the faults and chaos around me. My value goes hand in hand with the idea that nothing really matters in the end, because we’re all going to die, and our future generations are going to die, and the world is going to die. I agree with Camus highly, because the meaning of life is to live, and along the way, happiness, sadness, anger, and other absurdities will contribute with that meaning. Everyone is going to live differently, and that’s their own meaning in life. It’s all subjective but also contributes to the full idea that the meaning of life is to live.

Exposed to the Sun

In The Stranger, the sun and weather is a common occurrence in Camus’ writing. In the context of Maman’s funeral, “The sun was beginning to bear down on the earth and it was getting hotter by the minute… I was surprised at how fast the sun was climbing in the sky… The glare from the sky was unbearable,” (15, 16). Usually, the sun is used with a positive connotation, representing happiness, a bright future, etc. The uncommon use of a negative connotation for the sun in the second chapter correlates with the funeral occurring.

The climax of Part One of The Stranger occurs when Mersault is on the beach. And guess what? The sun is brought up again, “By now the sun was overpowering. It shattered into little pieces on the sand and water,” (55). The sun seems to be brought up in Mersault’s internal monologue when something bad is about to happen. It’s introduced at Maman’s funeral, and then mentioned again as the breaking point before Mersault shoots the Arab man at the beach.

From both contexts, I think the sun acts as a perpetrator to the negative occurrences and sets off Mersault in spiraling mood swings and thought processes.