France, Algeria, and Salamano’s Dog

Throughout The Stranger, there is an obvious divide between the Europeans and the Arabs, and it is often hostile, as would be expected considering the context of the story, where Algeria is a colony of France. While reading the story, I felt like Salamano and his dog could be an allegory for this relationship between an imperious France and a subjugated Algeria. I gathered this idea through the various interactions between Salamano and his dog, one of which was where Salamano noted that before the dog got sick, “‘His coat was the best thing about him.’” Meursault goes on to narrate that “Every night and every morning after the dog had gotten that skin disease, Salamano rubbed him with ointment. But according to him, the dog’s real sickness was old age” (45). The fact that the dog was initially healthy with a nice coat, but through living with Salamano had its “hair fall out” and became “covered with brown sores and scabs” (26), which Salamano falsely attributes to old age, indicates that Salamano’s abuse is the true cause of the dog’s condition. It is mentioned that the dog has the skin disease mange, but the unhealthy, abusive environment it is subject to is what gave rise to its poor condition, which Salamano unsuccessfully attempts to alleviate with ointment. A comparison can be drawn between this situation and that of France and Algeria, where France brought Algeria under its control, causing great damage to the colony due to excessive violence and exploitation of its land. France then did not take responsibility for the scabs and sores it caused Algeria just as Salamano blamed his dog’s scabs and sores on old age, and France pretended to have a positive impact on its colony through introducing its culture, as did Salamano when administering his dog ointment. Another section where the dog and Salamano seemed to be symbols for Algeria and France was when Meursault was describing Salamano’s walks with his dog: “the dog pulling the man along until old Salamano stumbles. Then he beats the dog and swears at it. The dog cowers and trails behind. Then it’s the old man who pulls the dog. Once the dog has forgotten, it starts dragging its master along again” (27). Here, the dog has the natural inclination to break free from Salamano, however, whenever it attempts to do so, Salamano pulls it back under his domination, punishing it for trying to achieve liberty just as France did to Algeria when it showed resistance to being a colony. In these and other examples, the dynamic between Salamano and his dog seems as though it could be a symbol for that of France and Algeria in the time period of The Stranger.

Life is a Prize

Existentialism is the belief in laymen terms that the world is yours. You have complete control over how you let experiences make or break you. In The Stranger, Meursault remembers how to be content in prison because he has no other choice. Some people would choose to be miserable at the fact they will not have freedom for the time being. Meursault learned to imagine and remember the joys of his life and desires he longed to have but could go without. This is the same as Sisyphus and his rock. He is in eternal punishment and instead of trying to find ways to “beat the system”, he is content with the fact that he will return to his rock everyday and they will complete the same uphill battle; for him mentally and physically. The world is what you make of it. Make do with what you have and find happiness and content within yourself so you won’t look for materialistic things etc. to bring you joy.

Meursault and Sisyphus: Making Do in a State of Suffering

Meursault has been sent to prison. He has committed the ultimate crime, murder, by shooting an Arab man five times.

This mirrors Sisyphus’s position of eternal punishment, being bound to roll a rock up a mountain, only for it to fall back down, in a continuous loop forever.

But writer Albert Camus insists that Sisyphus is actually happier than most humans ever will be. That, because his life is confined to suffering, by changing his mindset and accepting his reality, living as a prisoner instead of a free man, Sisyphus can live in eternal bliss.

“All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. His rock is a thing. (Camus)”

Meursault, rather than wallowing in his own pity and desiring the outside world, he adapts to the state of his life and accepts his punishment, achieving a morbid sense of comfort in his suffering. Meursault is the model prisoner, his life is carved out for him and he accepts it, rather than dreading it. He has his small fixes, but ultimately understands that his life is only punishment, and in his trademark boring and detached way, he’s accepted it. Only time will tell what awaits him next. How will what comes next tie into The Myth of Sisyphus, if at all?

Can Existentialists Help Others?

When we discussed the premise of existentialism, I struggled with the idea of individualism above all else. If the only thing that truly exists is random, absurd suffering, then the only thing we can do that matters is to attempt to alleviate some of that suffering. Trying to help others live a happier, more secure, more comfortable life must be the only worthy goal. And to do this effectively, a person can’t be strictly independent; they have to consider the needs and feelings of other people as well.

But according to Frank Kappler’s article “A Torturous Road to New Morality” (linked in the existentialism resources on Classroom), which explains Sartre’s theory of existentialism, helping others is not necessarily at odds with existentialism. Sartre claims that it is in fact a way to escape the despair that comes with the knowledge that life is absurd, describing this principle as “engagement,” or as Kappler puts it, “Committing oneself by a resolute act of free choice to a positive part in human affairs.” As long as you chose this path yourself– in spite of the absurdity– you can remain an existentialist even as you try to fulfill a purpose (although I would argue that if you have such a purpose, then that gives life some meaning). I thought this was an interesting, surprisingly optimistic aspect of Sartre’s theory that made existentialism more understandable.

Existentialist Lines in the Sand

Evil Mr. Heidkamp brought up some interesting points in his lecture on existentialism last week about the monotony of daily life. Primarily, he discussed the meaning of life is to “accept the absurd” and forge your own path, however underwhelming it may be. Essentially, it is the epitome of individuality. According to him, most people choose to believe in values such as love, religion, and anything else they use to explain away the truth. In doing so, they follow the grain of countless others around and before them – sheep following the flock.

So, in order to break free of this cycle and discover the true meaning of life, one must accept that life is not filled with purpose or values, it just is. It is merely a thing that exists, nothing else. And if accepting this means others view you as radical? So be it. But where does one draw the line? At what point does ‘just existing’ or ‘just doing’ become inexcusable? When someone commits murder for sure.

Which brings us to the novel, The Stranger, in which Meursault lives a monotonous and average life, doing the same things everyday without adventure. In this story, Meursault is the embodiment of existentialism. He goes through life with no emotional attachment, accepting everything the way it is. When he shoots the man and is jailed, he is unable to provide any explanation as to why. He was handed a gun, he shot it. He gets caught, he accepts it. He gets put on death row, he accepts that too. If this is what it means to “accept the absurd,” why would anyone want that? What’s so bad about choosing to believe in values and purpose? And, if one acknowledges the absurd but continues on in the fashion of everyone else, is that a roundabout way of accepting it?

Nabokov and Camus

It is no secret that Vladimir Nabokov was a controversial figure. Nabokov famously said inflammatory things about many authors who are in high regard in the literary cannon. For instance, on Gogol, Nabokov said “I was careful not to learn anything from him. As a teacher, he is dubious and dangerous. At his worst, as in his Ukrainian stuff, he is a worthless writer; at his best, he is incomparable and inimitable.” On Hemingway, Nabokov proclaimed, “[He is] a writer of books for boys. Certainly better than Conrad. Has at least a voice of his own. Nothing I would care to have written myself. In mentality and emotion, hopelessly juvenile.”

One possible explanation for this is that unlike many authors, Nabokov writes for the art of writing. Nabokov’s vision of a good writer as presented in his essay on good readers and good writers is a person who does not take the world that exists and morph it to convey their own message but instead embraces a new world for it’s own inherent artistic value. Nabokov is dissatisfied with authors, including many literary giants, who he perceives as trying to push some sort of agenda or philosophy through their works. This is something of which Camus is undeniably guilty, as Camus’s work serves largely as a vehicle to demonstrate Absurdist and Existentialist principals in practice. It’s no surprise then that when asked his thoughts on Camus, Nabokov responded “Dislike him. Second-rate, ephemeral, puffed-up. A nonentity, means absolutely nothing to me. Awful.”

Perhaps all is not lost, however, for the Nabokovian reading Camus. Some have pointed out the similarities the writers have in their contemplation of the absurd, despite their vast differences in style. Further, it is definitely possible to employ the technique of “reading with the spine” when reading Camus’s masterpiece The Stranger as the novel is neither cerebral nor submerged in emotion but rather a curious in-between (something that can also be said of Absurdity as a philosophy). In the end, it’s important to remember that while comparing these author’s philosophies may be a fun exercise, they are still just that — philosophies. And philosophies are only useful in as far as they can help us make sense of the world, as opposed to make it more convoluted.

Nothing, Everything, and Nowhere In Between

At face value, existentialist philosophy is the philosophy of aloof scorn towards societal values and human problems. That middle-age “existential crisis”, questioning, “What could it all MEAN?” For most characterizations of such philosophy, the answer is nothing. All of society, human institutions, experiences, and emotions are for naught, at least as far as the universe and life itself is concerned- we are all just a part of a big floating rock in space where stuff happens, with no rhyme or reason as to when it happens or who it happens to. It is all absurd.

Yet, a deeper look into existentialism produces a different outlook, for which we may consider Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”. In his essay, Camus argues that the old Greek mythological figure condemned to rolling a boulder up a mountain for eternity has been severely misrepresented in his emotional state. Rather than becoming discouraged at the futility of his fate, Sisyphus finds meaning and fulfillment in the brief moments walking down the mountain to retrieve his rock; for then, he can appreciate his momentary triumph and very existence. The act of living becomes his meaning of life, and he is fully present. Therefore, rather than being sad and longing of his old life, Sisyphus is actually happy.

This idea about finding meaning in existence results in an important modification to the common portrayal of existentialism. Nothing matters except for existence, and therefore, everything matters. The meaning of life is not found in emotions, or institutions, or goals; it is found in the very existence of the mundane. Everything simply is, and nothing lies beyond- there is nowhere in between.

It’s the Lack of a Moral Compass for Me

While reading The Stranger I thought that Meursault was a very problematic character. I did not like how he did not care about too much of anything. I also thought it was quite distasteful how he was able to be friends with Raymond who is an abuser. Meursault was very aware of how bad of a character that Raymond was, he describes some of Raymond’s action to the reader he states, ¨When the dog wants to urinate, the old man won´t give him enough time and yanks at him…If the dog has an accident in the room, it gets beaten again¨(27). Even after Meursault knew how Raymond was he even went into his apartment to eat food. While in the apartment Raymond also admitted to beating his girlfriend(29-32). I am overall sick of Meursault and his lack of being aware of red flags and frankly bad people. He just kind of goes along with everything Raymond says without correcting him and telling him what he is doing is unacceptable.

Meaning in Illusions

In “The Myth of Sisyphus”, author Albert Camus argues that Sisyphus is happy. Camus explains that because Sisyphus is aware of the absudity of life, he can be happy even during his eternal punishment. He can realize that there is no point to his labor and find happiness just from doing something. Camus writes, “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart,” (3). Although this is what drives Sisyphus to be happy, ordinary people can also find happiness without looking past the absurdity of life.

Most people today find meaning in their life through family, success, faith, love, and many other things. These are all illusions to distract people from what life truly is at its essence however I do not think this causes people to be any less happy. If a person cares about financial success, then they drive themselves forward with the idea that they want more than what they currently have. This drive may not be considered a great motive but it can keep people happy to have a dream in mind. Wanting enough money to live comfotably is a common motive in society and their happiness while getting closer to the goal is defineatley not fake. Even though at it’s core it is crazy to keep value in life based on pieces of paper is absurd, the happiness it can bring is real. It keeps people away from thinking about the randomness of their actions and drives them. If Sisyphus can be truly happy just lifting a boulder up a hill, then the absurdity of our actions and motives can also keep ordinary people happy.

Irony of the Myth of Sisyphus

The myth of Sisyphus describes what is supposedly the harshest of all punishments: the Gods condemn him to a lifetime of futile servitude for the crime of disdain for the Gods and disdain the procession of death. Sisyphus’s punishment is to roll a boulder up a hill which immediately falls down once reaching the top. Sisyphus will do this for eternity; the supposed torture in this act being the meaninglessness of it all. 

Although an eternal torment, Camus’s genius is to highlight the ironic fact that Sisyphus’s tasks are no different than those carried out in modern everyday life. We (as humans, not mythical creatures) perform repetitive tasks, some undertaken with imaginary purpose, all of which in turn appear in and of themselves as devoid of meaning. Any value taken away from a human task is merely what we imagine it to be. The wafer taken during communion is meaningless to most; for those believers, it is imparted with a great deal of imagined significance. Or social popularity which truly manifests solely as idols in an individual mind. 

            Sisyphus keeps pushing the boulder; every step up the hill serving as an inspiration for the next. There is no change in this routine, the same results are produced, and the same hardships are endured. Like Sisyphus, Man creates a purpose for these repetitive tasks no matter how meaningless the task, such as pushing a boulder up a hill. 

          It is the pursuit for purpose in one’s life which in itself gives meaning to mans’ lives. “This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

After Awhile You Can Get Used to Anything!

In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, Meursault’s mother passes away before the book begins. A series of events occur, including Mersault shooting a man, which result in a prison sentence. To most, prison is probably not the most ideal place to live. With no freedom, Meursault has to give up his job, women and cigarettes. To Meursault, prison is not so horrible after awhile. Camus writes, “So, with all the sleep, my memories, reading my crime story, and the alteration of light and darkness, time passed” (80). Meursault realizes life is meaningless, and everything is up to the choices he makes. When he explains his time in prison, he does not complain about losing the freedom to visit his job, girlfriend, or friends. He decides to live life in prison by using what he has, and not missing what he used to have. Meursualt creates games, digs out old memories, and reads the same crime story over and over. He doesn’t believe being in prison is a bad thing, because he has no other hopes or dreams. He is where he is, because he has done what he’s done, and now he must pay the consequence for it.

Living life this way can seem depressing, but ultimately, it means Meursault is not unhappy. He does not wish for anything and in fact, even when Marie comes to visit him, he doesn’t display affection or happiness to finally see her. While many people pray they will never have to spend a day in jail, Meursault has a different approach. As Maman used to believe, “after awhile you could get used to anything” (77).

Sisyphus is not Happy

Camus’ argument that Sisyphus is the happiest person in the world is just a flat out lie. I would like to know how pushing a rock up a mountain for the rest of your life brings happiness. Just because Sisyphus was “the wisest and most prudent of mortals” doesn’t make him the happiest. I actually would like to argue that his realization is what makes him the most sad man in the universe. I’d like to connect Sisyphus and Camus’ theory to a show I watch called Rick and Morty. I’m going to focus on Rick who in the show is the smartest man in the galaxy and is basically a God because of this. But on the other side of his intelligence is that he is extremely depressed, because he is so smart that he realizes that he is in a TV show and knows that his life is “absurd”. This is almost directly tied to Sisyphus and maybe his wisdom has allowed him to realize that life is absurd while the rest of us live our life with the window dressing of meaning.

Lost In Translation And Existentialism

The Discrepancies Between The Stranger And L’étranger And An Existentialist Conversation

I sat down to read L’étranger for the first time a few springs ago, and every so often I reread the first few pages or chapters aloud.

The flow of …

Aujourd’hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.

Camus, Albert. L’étranger. Éditions Gallimard, 1942, p.1.

… is something that has burned into my memory.

Reading both the English and French version of the novel evokes vivid images and a world I constructed and fabricated so clearly sophomore year. Rereading the first few pages of this book had become an almost obsessive behavior, but it was comforting because it transported me to a world that paralleled a time in my life that felt hopeful and purposeful (which was somewhat ironic). I associated the way Meursault would hold a cigarette, the vast expanses of Algerian beaches, the bright lights of the funeral home, and the red sores of Salamano’s dog with the end of my sophomore year in an inextricable way.

When I picked up this book in English for the first time, I was off put. The same images that came with the rhythm of the French version that I had read aloud repeatedly ceased to appear. It was strange, so I would blink, and attempt to read again and conjure up the world of Meursault. I think that as I continued to read, but there was always a certain uneasiness that followed. Which maybe was an appropriate accompaniment for the book.

This anxiety that I am missing something surfaces everytime I read a book that I know was originally in a different language. Anna Karenina should be in Russian, Norwegian Wood should be in Japanese – what is slipping through the cracks of the language barrier that I will never be able to grasp? I trust modern translators, and I know that popular translations are meticulously constructed to preserve the original meaning. But I also know that there will always be something missing – which makes me want to learn more languages. But then I wonder if learning these languages outside of a native context will skew my understanding.

Nevertheless, last school year I hadn’t thought of Meursault for a while until 2020 had upturned all of our worlds in March.

Similarly, I recall turning to Huis Clos (No Exit) by Jean Paul Sartre in order to explain the absurdity and relentlessness that this year. I prominently recall a list of existentialist vocabulary that prefaced the play in our thin paperback copies.

L’absurde – Reality is absurd because we recognize our inability to explain its existence. The outside world exists without apparent justification, foundation or purpose.

La nausée – Nausea is the feeling of repulsion that takes us when we become aware of the absurdity of reality.

L’angoisse – Anguish is the normal condition of those who have become aware of their total liberty, and the fact that there are no universal values that can justify the choices they have made.

L’authenticité – A man who has grasped and accepted the fact that he is free, who has realized what his situation is, and who has, within that situation, chosen to engage himself in the world around him so as to affirm his liberty, is an authentic person.

Le choix – Man is condemned, because he is free, to choose what he is going to be, by his daily actions. This choice also implies the attitude of the Others and hence is another source of anguish.

La liberté – To be free is to recognize one’s complete independence; to make one’s own life through one’s own initiative; to reject any idea of absolute Good or absolute Evil and to accept no judge or mentor to save one’s own conscience.

I remember writing that I was overcome with la nausée while driving in my car, listening to Dreams by Fleetwood Mac last spring. I had taken to driving long distances with my Dad as a form of escapism. I would drive along rural highways and never get out of the car, and that gave me a lot of time to be pensive. I felt as if I was hit by something so large and overwhelming that is was indescribable. It sunk in my stomach like lead. And everything around me seemed to take on a new lens as irrelevant and frivolous. As a went through the sequence of trying to justify the turbulence that had uprooted my junior year (before March, I had also had a difficult and unusual year), I realized that searching only made it worse.

It was cringely nerdy, but I had to take out my copy of Huis Clos in order to explain and document this feeling that had overwhelmed me on the drive. I realized that this was la nausée, but this brutal experience had taken me one step closer towards la liberté. It was something I had to grapple with in order to move away from the brink of hopelessness. Which I sometimes fear removes its authenticity. I can’t use it was a means to escape something, because that is just as harmful. I think I am grappling with my relationship with l’absurde everyday, but not in too conscious a way. It is a balance that I will be trying to find for the rest of my life.

Who Is the Real Robot?

While at Celeste’s, Meursault eats dinner with a small woman. She is very direct, precise, and quick. This intrigues Meursault enough to follow her after dinner to see what she does next. This woman is described as a “robotlike” (43) by Meursault. This woman seems like a foil to Meursault because she does everything with direction: “Ordered her whole meal all at once… 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). From the moment she sits down she does everything with purpose. This is clearly the opposite of Meursault, who through the story aimlessly lets life happen to him as he does things like turn down promotions and marry a woman he is not in love with.  

Calling her the robot woman seems odd as Meursault could be described as a robot himself. He seems to feel no emotion and just does exactly what he is told to do. I think this woman could be an example of why some critiques of existentialism and Meursault are hypocritical. As some say that it is dark and assumes life has no meaning. The character of the robot woman shows how a person that is the exact opposite of an existentialist, one that has great belief in the systems that humans have created, could be just as bad. As while Meursault seems not to decide anything for himself she does not either, as she is trapped in a routine determined by systems outside of her control. Meursault and the robot woman show how opposite extremes in world view could result in similar people.

The Passing of Time (and Character)

The Stranger written by Albert Camus is largely a stream of consciousness into a character Meursault. Things happen in the plot, events that would change someone’s life permanently, but the narration is so distant that it brings the focus away from the plot and to the mind of the character.

With Meursault as well as Camus’ portrayal of Sisyphus in “The Myth of Sisyphus”, the characters that are attached to existentialism aren’t philosophers; they are unaware of the exact nature of what distinguishes them from others. Sisyphus goes from sad to happy in his respective story, which is a little simpler of an interpretation of the philosophy despite its being much more difficult to read. Meursault is more complicated in that he isn’t necessarily happy or sad, or important even in his own head. He finds some enjoyment in daily activities like eating and napping, and finds conversations interesting, but he feels neither doomed nor enlightened.

For a lot of the story, Camus seems to throw problems and events at Meursault to see how he reacts.

A lot of time passes in the first and second chapter of part II. And for the most part, Meursault’s lifestyle is stagnant. The eleven months that pass of his questioning have virtually no effect on his mental state, and his five months in prison only act as a rehab from things like going to the beach and smoking, and then he becomes adjusted and lives what to him is a complete life, with brand new daily activities:

“So with all the sleep, my memories, reading my crime story, and the alternation of light and darkness, time passed” (80).

I think that losing track of time is less of an effect of prison and more of the natural consequence of an existentialist philosophy, personified by Meursault’s circumstances. Meursault values life for the sole purpose of being able to live, but there’s no reason for him to value time. There’s evidence that Meursault has abandoned parts of his life just to lead a simpler life, and this chapter shows that he also has the ability to abandon time. So, where Camus threw a prison sentence at Meursault, he discovered something new about how Meursault wants to live life.

The following is my favorite quote from the story (so far).

“At the time, I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowering overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it” (77).

The Sun: Meursault’s Spotlight

The story The Stranger by Albert Camus introduces a character named Meursault, who some could argue is just passing through life and not caring about the attributes such as love, religion and family that people would say makes life worth living. In the story, there is a constant mention of the sun. The sun’s brightness and heat seems to be described in key moments, such as Meursault’s mother’s funeral and the moment on the beach where he decided to go back to the man that was following Raymond. The sun acts as a spotlight on this emotionless, empty character to face reality. It seems as if Meursault makes all his key decisions because of the blinding of the sun beating down on him. It’s inescapable, (unlike everything else in his life.) Meursault felt trapped by the sun’s beams : ” …”Strained every nerve in order to overcome the sun and the thick drunkenness it was spilling over me”(57). The sun’s power allows Meursault to shoot and kill the man. In the beginning of the story, there are multiple mentions of the brightness of the room Meursault was sitting in with his mother’s friends mourning her. The lights and sun makes him see the world in its real light. He sees his mothers friends sad over her in that moment, as well as makes a decision to kill the man on the beach under the spotlight of the light. He can’t hide from it, its always present over him. Kind of like society’s norms and expectations on what makes live worth living.

Is it called human condition or Sisyphus?

As Camus made Sisyphus’s condition from his punishment contradict and compare to the condition of a human, I agree over the implied conclusions Camus made over the human condition within his argument.  Humans go throughout their lives working vigorously while struggling pointlessly to achieve something as they visualize a version of success that a specific individual aspires to obtain.  Many humans set goals that all in all have value in order to seek benefits in life, bringing individual success.  Sisyphus being forced to attempt to push a stone to the top of a mountain has no value if he were or weren’t to complete the task as the stone would stay on the mountain for eternity.  This compares a human condition we tend to call failure, as there are times humans work vigorously towards success but aren’t completely accomplished.  Sometimes the struggle in order to get to success doesn’t pertain towards anything significant within life making the struggle humans go through pointless.  This human condition is what makes a human or Sisyphus’s life absurd as the confrontation we have between ourselves as individuals who strive for success is absurd compared to the struggle and hardship we withstand to grow closer to success even when the success is completely meaningless.  All in all, I agree with the reading of the myth and the conclusions implied about the human condition as Sisyphus is struggling to a point where it’s pointless just as humans do when they set goals, making Sisyphus an exemplar to the human condition.

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? 

Camus Argues That Happiness is Perspective

In “The Myth of Sisyphus” Camus writes of the tragic story of a man stuck in the underworld pushing a boulder up a hill for it only to roll down again. However, despite the clear suffering that Sisyphus experiences, Camus somehow turns the reader into thinking that Sisyphus is content with his situation. Camus writes, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” (3).

Camus argues that even though his situation isn’t ideal for him, Sisyphus can still value his life by having the mindset of enjoying his presence. This can relate to existentialism because it creates a meaning of life. People have to create a meaning of life in order to live their lives with purpose and happiness. Although the true meaning of life has yet to be found, and most likely will never be found, people can create a fake meaning of life in order to cope with the inevitability of death and curiosity. I also think that happiness is a mindset, and it can be found in any situation despite suffering. This was the argument that Camus writes, and I think that existence as well as the meaning of life is all about perspective.

I watched this Key and Peele skit the other day where they were being tortured and instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they chose to laugh about it and find the good sides of it. As their legs were being chopped off, they talked about how they needed a good break away from their phones. I thought this related to the topic because it is all about how someone perceives something. The skit is called “Key and Peele – Psycho Clown” if you want to watch it. I would very much recommend you watch it and it’s only 3 minutes.

Meursault Is the Stranger

From what I’ve read so far, I believe that Meursault is the stranger. A stranger is someone who is an outsider or a foreigner and I noticed that Meursault is a stranger to society and somewhat himself.

He doesn’t follow social norms. He didn’t show compassion for his mother, Raymond’s girlfriends, Salamano’s dog, etc. In the eyes of society, his kind of behavior is regarded as bizarre. Meursault does not understand why events have a sentimental value for people and this is what makes him disconnected with society. In addition, I think that he is a stranger to himself in a way, but not more than he is to others. He goes through events without a plan and without commitment to either principles or people. He doesn’t know who he is and he doesn’t care. Meursault is a stranger and an absurdity to society because he does not show any emotions, he has no meaning for life, and his only certainty and guarantee is death.