“II. Zealots Of Stockholm” – The Existentialist Theme Song

Heathen, it's a struggle just to keep breathing
“II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)” by Childish Gambino

By definition, existentialism is defined a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. While we’ve explored the lot of existentialist ideals worked into our readings of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, I believe one of the most profound pieces of existentialist media is Donald Glovers “Because The Internet”, specifically his song titled “II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information). The overall story of the song follows Glovers relationships with his parents which evolves into the overall questioning of life and death. Throughout the song many lines allude to the overall existential meaning of the song, such as the final line of the first verse reading “F*ck him, I just really wanna feel something,” making reference to a girl pursuing her own individuality through cheating on her significant other for satisfaction. While I won’t cite the lines in full due to their explicit nature, it’s worth highlighting Glover’s notes of existentialist ideals throughout the rest of the track. During the second verse, Glover makes reference to the un-importance of sexual relationships being heavily romantic, the human race being in a constant race to achieve artificial power, as well as the fragility and insignificance of the human life. While Glover is known for plenty works displaying commentary on the worlds issues through music and film, some of his work being categorized as that of the theater of the absurd/existentialist type deserves more exploration and further attention in the media.

Albert Camus Anatomy of the Philosophy of Absurdism

In the novel “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus, confronts an important issue and uses the singular viewpoint of the narrator Meursault to develop his theme of absurdism. Camus managed to to bring on a subject of humanity that is not often talked about. Absurdity is, in philosophy, the conflict to find meaning to something that essentially doesn’t have a meaning. Meursault shows this throughout most of the novel. In the very first sentence of the novel Meursault starts off by stating, “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I can’t be sure” (Camus 4). Meursault fails to mourn of his mother’s death. Camus perceives life itself absurd, life is meaningless; but even more absurd that humans struggle to find meaning to something that meaningless. There is no meaning to life and therefore people should perceive life in there own way.

Marriage in The Stranger and Trust

The main characters Meursault in The Stranger, and Matthew and Maria in the movie Trust (1990), are all prototypes for the Absurdist hero. All of them live as misfits, ignoring social norms and expectations. This is especially evident in their regard for marriage. While Meursault was willing to marry Marie even though he admitted to her on multiple occasions that he did not love her, he did so with emotional involvement of deciding what to eat for dinner. Not once did he question or wrestle with the idea of marriage; he was okay with it if it was something Marie wanted. He certainly didn’t see marriage as a life-changing decision that needed any deep thought.

Similarly in the movie Trust, Maria was willing to marry her boyfriend more out of convenience due to her pregnancy than any true love for him. She sees him more as a stable provider as he will probably work for his father’s business and have a stable income. When he dumps her, she’s not upset and doesn’t express any real love for him. Matthew too has a strange view of marriage as he offers to marry Maria and raise her baby while only knowing her mostly as a friend and for a short time. None of them take marriage seriously. Although I guess this fits with the Absurdist view that nothing really matters in the end, including marriage.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

In both The Stranger by Albert Camus and the movie Trust (1990), the characters seem unaffected by the norms of the world around them. Meursault of the former appears to be detached and unconcerned with the happenings of society, and the actors in the latter portray their characters with deadpan expressions and unrealistic dialogue. As both of these pieces of media are commentaries on the restrictions of societal norms, the unrealistic and often unemotional appearance of the characters amplifies the social mores that are being critiqued.

In The Stranger, Meursault does not value the things that society tells him to value. The character of the people he surrounds himself with does not concern him, nor does the expectation that one should cry at one’s mother’s funeral. He does not follow the widely accepted way of living and does not care about what people think others should care about. His seeming indifference to the world is received harshly by his peers. During his court case, he is persecuted mostly for the abnormal way in which he acts. Through the harsh contrast between Meursault’s unemotional and uncaring nature and society’s (as shown through the jury) expectations of others, we see the ridiculous nature of imposed societal norms.

In Trust, the actors deliver their lines in a way that is lacking emotion that may make viewers cringe. This muted unrealistic performance of some is matched by heightened unrealistic performance of others in the film. The absurd behavioral patterns of Michael’s father and Maria’s mother compared to Michael and Maria’s subdued and abnormal approach to the world illuminates the strangeness of societal patterns and norms.

Marie is Happy too

Albert Camus’ The Stranger exhibits the way that societal expectations serve to uphold a system in which everyone’s aim is to reach an ideal and is, therefore, never satisfied. These ideals are merely constructs, however; irrational and absurd. Camus asserts that the only way to truly seek happiness is to avoid seeking control over what is random and to embrace one’s agency to determine their own fate. 

Of the characters through which Camus demonstrates the theme of his novel, Marie acts as somewhat of a contradiction. She chooses to follow societal norms, unlike characters like Meursault and Salamano, who are disconnected from judgment and expectations. Marie illustrates what is expected of a romantic relationship when she asks Meursault if he wishes to marry her (41). The motivation behind this as well as her subsequent questioning of whether he loves her seems to be because Marie assumes this is what should happen in a romantic relationship like theirs. The widely accepted image of love that she embodies merely serves to establish a need for perfection in the construction of an expected passion for romance.

Despite striving to follow in the image of society, Marie is the most joyful character in the novel. This is in part because of her naivety, but also because she is the most open-minded and accepting. When Meursault responds to her question, he is contradictingly dispassionate. Marie is not upset by this, but comes to understand Meursault’s seemingly shallow view of her. While one might argue that this only proves her naivety, it also allows her to fully enjoy her relationship with Meursault because she is not overly attached to any one idea or expectation.

Meursault and Matthew: One in the Same?

Upon reading the novel The Stranger and watching the movie Trust, the similarities of two important characters in these two different stories are hard to ignore: Meursault and Matthew. Their own names bare a resemblance (both starting with “M”) as does the names of the women they take a liking to: Marie and Maria. They also both play a significant role in the lives of those around them. Meursault getting Marie to fall in love with him and propose to him, and Matthew showing up in Marie’s life and changing her outlook on her future and what she wants to do with it.

Despite their similarities, they also have their differences. Meursault doesn’t seem to fall in love or have a desire for love with Marie the way that Matthew does towards Maria, Matthew even going as far as wishing to marry her on a whim. Matthew also seems to be more expressive and emotional, showing frustration and anger towards Marie’s mother taking advantage of her. Meanwhile, Meursault lacked the ability to cry at his own mother’s funeral or show any emotion at all.

This demonstrates the various ways that lifestyles can differ from person to person throughout fiction and real life, no two people being exactly the same.

Morality differences in “Trust” and “The Stranger”

When we watched the film, “Trust” after reading Camus’ “The Stranger”, I think myself and a lot of my peers were probably struck by many of the parallels that seemed to exist between the book and the film. After all, the movie has a very mundane and depressing tone for a lot of its duration, just like “The Stranger”, where lot of events seem to happen that would be best explained through an absurdist world devoid of meaning. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Maria’s dad just suddenly collapses and dies. It is explained as a result of many problems her dad had, but it is presented in the movie as a totally inexplicable, random event that happens to occur at just the right moment for Maria’s mother to unleash all of her wrath onto Marie. The whole film takes on a gray, monotonous sort of feeling while details like Matthew having a grenade and a baby being kidnapped seem to be presented rather bluntly; there are things that just happen or exist and are portrayed in a rather straight forward way not unlike moments in “The Stranger” where domestic violence and murder are also described as something that just sort of happens and is experienced by Meursault; not in a particularly emotional way, just as a reality of the absurd world he lives in.

Despite these similarities, an interesting difference I saw between the two, especially towards the end of “Trust”, comes in the form of how some of the morals or ethics shown in both. Something I found striking is that although Matthew is a very smart guy and can fix all kinds of electronics, part of the reason he keeps quitting/has difficulty coming to terms with his job is because he sees it as unethical. The company he works for makes defective products so that they will get clients to come back and pay for them to be fixed. The company wants Matthew to keep his head down and just do his job, but it becomes clear that Matthew feels strongly against this so much that he keeps quitting. When reflecting about this moment I thought this showed an interesting divergence from “The Stranger”. If this were Meursault’s job, in my opinion, Meursault would absolutely not care if he was scamming people or not. We see that Meursault barely has a moral pulse throughout the entire book, for example when writing the letter for Raymond or when murdering someone.

In contrast, in “Trust”, the movie actually ends with Matthew and Marie sharing a genuine moment at the computer-repair shop where their love for each other is evident and Marie saves Matthew from his own suicide attempt. Marie and Matthew don’t really have much in terms of power or money to gain by loving one another, but over the course of the movie they seem to find that they really do genuinely love and understand one another. Meursault doesn’t really ever feel that emotional towards other characters, usually valuing people in a more materialist sense. While the movie ends in uncertainty for Marie and Matthew, it is clear that they have broken through the mundane world with their genuine emotions for one another, creating a world between the two of them that is dynamic enough to dispel any ideas about an absurdist existence. Ultimately, one story features a man arrested, contended, and alone on death row with another also arrested but clearly discontented and wanting to be with Marie. Despite many of the apparent similarities between the novel and the film, “real”, emotional, love is responsible for revealing some very stark differences between “Trust” and “The Stranger”.

Theme in “The Stranger” Goes Beyond Existentialism

In Albert Camus’s The Stranger, Mersault experiences what many can’t wrap their heads around, the idea that nothing matters and all concepts in society are really social constructs worth nothing. The theme of Camus’s The Stranger is that life is what you make of it and experiences throughout life only have meaning if meaning is given to them. Meursault’s character represents this idea as he navigates through different, dramatic life experiences in an unconventional way. The reader learns about Mersault through his relationships, like his mother and Marie, as well as his experience in prison. By putting little value into these experiences, it could actually be a good thing, because he lacks pain. Although some might criticize him and say a life lived like this is sad and that the highs and lows are what bring meaning to life, one could also argue that simplicity and stability are the keys to happiness. Emotional highs and lows often bring overwhelming thoughts and feelings, causing distress, but Meursault’s life reflects a life of peace, and therefore, happiness. This mindset is also reflected in “Myth of Sisyphus” because Sisyphus lives a life of happiness even though he is forced to live a life many would deem boring and painful. By accepting his life for what it was and getting used to it, he finds peace in the cards that were dealt to him.

The Murderer and the Priest: Meursault and Chesterton

"But I was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me. I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another ... Couldn't he, couldn't this condemned man see...And that from somewhere deep in my future...All the shouting had me gasping for air. But they were already tearing the chaplain from my grip and the guards were threatening me. He calmed them, though, and looked at me for a moment without saying anything. His eyes were full of tears. Then he turned and disappeared." (122, Camus, The Stranger)
"Then when this kindly world all round the man has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother's face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, 'He believes in himself.'" (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

G.K. Chesterton was a British Catholic author and social commentator in the early 20th century. I finished reading Orthodoxy by Chesterton a while ago, and found what he said, even though it was written long before the rise of existentialism to the mainstream, to be applicable to a lot of the themes in The Stranger. The egoist philosophers who Chesterton criticizes, who believe in nothing but themselves, are strikingly similar to the existential philosophers who reject all systems of life but their own, especially including Meursault, of The Stranger, and may even be defined in the same statement.

"For the sake of simplicity, it is easier to state the notion by saying that a man can believe that he is always in a dream. Now, obviously there can be no positive proof given to him that he is not in a dream, for the simple reason that no proof can be offered that might not be offered in a dream. But if the man began to burn down London and say that his housekeeper would soon call him to breakfast, we should take him and put him with other logicians in a place which has often been alluded to in the course of this chapter [the insane asylum]. The man who cannot believe his senses [the egoist], and the man who cannot believe anything else [the materialist], are both insane, but their insanity is proved not by any error in their argument, but by the manifest mistake of their whole lives. They have both locked themselves up in two boxes, painted inside with the sun and stars; they are both unable to get out, the one into the health and happiness of heaven, the other even into the health and happiness of the earth. Their position is quite reasonable; nay, in a sense it is infinitely reasonable, just as a threepenny bit is infinitely circular. ...When [these philosophers] wish to represent eternity, they represent it by a serpent with his tail in his mouth. There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal. The eternity of the material fatalists, the eternity of the eastern pessimists, the eternity of the supercilious theosophists and higher scientists of to-day is, indeed, very well presented by a serpent eating his tail, a degraded animal who destroys even himself." (Orthodoxy)

The main argument against this view is of course that there is a vast difference between the egoist and the existentialist, which is true, at least from a sympathetic perspective, but it could certainly be argued that both philosophies view the world in a similar, or at least comparable way. Chesterton’s criticism applies to both, since both philosophies essentially reject all counter-arguments by saying they don’t matter or don’t actually exist. They cannot be reasonably disproven, but this does not mean that they are correct.

I ended up putting the two pieces (The Stranger and Orthodoxy) together after reading the man referring to Meursault as the antichrist, and especially during the climactic final pages with his interaction with the priest, because it contrasts the vastly different realities these two men lived in, and how they were almost like oil and water to each other. For me, the priest seemed to be the human living his life with care and compassion, and Meursault living like a dead man, as if nothing mattered, so it struck me when Meursault himself saw the exact opposite. I don’t mean to push a religious message here, only that it seems like most human beings can probably see Meursault as the antithesis to humanity, if they look hard enough. Since he lives without emotion, morality, or any other basic human connection to reality.

Inside The Mind of Meursault

The Stranger written by Albert Camus is largely a flow 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 very deep thinkers. Sisyphus goes from sad to happy, Meursault is more complicated in that he isn’t necessarily feel 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 unhappy or content.

For a lot of the story, Camus seems to throw problems and events at Meursault to see how he reacts. 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 recovery from things like going to the beach and smoking. Meursault values life for the sole purpose of being able to live, but there’s no reason for him to value time. The reader knowing the internal thoughts of Meursault shifts changes their views on a character like Meursault and allows for many different perspectives of him to be found.

Existentialism is Scary

In Albert Camus’ novel “The Stranger”, The main story we follow is of Meursault’s life. A man who sees the world differently through a perspective that is tragic yet enlightening. Through this enlightenment however, comes dreadful existence. Is life truly meaningless if you find happiness? I believe life is what you make it.

Someone with disdain for existence is going to have a hard time facing the reality of their own philosophy. In the case of Meursault, he is never truly fulfilled in his life and has no problem with throwing it away for the expense of his sanity. Would you rather know so much that it is unbearable to your mind or live a life of blissful ignorance making you at peace with the world. The universe that we live in is shown to give only partial answers.

Meursault may find pleasure to be the end all be all but life is more than that. That doesn’t have to mean the infinite pursuit of knowledge, but some things are worth studying and practicing because as far as we know we don’t know what happens beyond the grave. I may not be religious but I understand the use of religion, the existence of faith has created order in the human population. That order may be good or bad but if society was told all the answers, and we never could theorize, the walls of civilization would come tumbling down depending on what we hear.

Does The Stranger Covery True Happiness

In life people believe that happiness is from aspects of life like love, family, and being successful. But in life the real things that exist are pain and suffering which creates these other aspects like love and family. Although the aspects of life create a shadow over the real things that exist in the world. And because of this achieving true happiness is much more difficult than understand how it works. Because one of the ways to achieve true happiness is understanding one’s life and what they are made to do in the world. But also being able to be contempt with themselves and how they live in this world which is a very terrible one to live in because of the hardships. So being able to do these things and make this realization creates one true happiness.

In The Stranger by Albert Camus he portrays the main character Meursault as someone with no feelings and is a weird individual. In the beginning of the story Meursault’s mother dies and he has a hard time dealing with it, but does not feel remorse in the moment or even later in the story until the end. When he makes his realization that the world is a cruel place and his feelings about certain aspects of life are more twisted than what one would expect from a “normal person”. Through the story there are different aspects of life that are made in different ways but are fully developed through the pain and suffering in life which are the main aspects of how life is lived and figuring that aspect out is how to achieve happiness in the accursed world. Towards the end of the story he makes a realization that the death penalty is what he deserved and what his position is in the world and what his purpose was in this world. Because he died happy understanding the his life and how the world works and how his life played out and his fate was set and his realization allowed him to achieve true happiness.

This explains how The Stranger expresses true happiness and how when the main character Meursault finally achieves true happiness because he makes the realization of his life and his purpose in this life. Once he made the realization of the pain and suffering that this world brings on people he lived in. He was able to understand his purpose and what his life played out for him. Which allowed him to die happy because of the way he was able to understand the true aspects of life.

Some Things Shouldn’t be Fixed

In “Trust” when Matthew’s boss asks him to fix a broken piece of machinery Matthew replies, “no.”

“Why not?” His boss asks.

“Some things shouldn’t be fixed,” Matthew answers.

The reason why Matthew is frustrated with his work is because they are fixing computers and TVs that were built to fall apart. They were made cheaply and with faulty components and so they inevitably break allowing his company to profit. Is it worth it to attempt to fix a faulty product that is going to simply break again? For the company, the answer is yes. They benefit greatly from fixing their defective products because they are getting paid to do it. It is a genius cycle, they sell flawed products that are built to break and then get paid to fix them and then they inevitably break again. From this, we as viewers begin to question whether sometimes things are better off staying broken than they are being fixed.

As Matthew an Maria’s relationship develops, they both start to change as well seemingly both “fixing each other.” Matthew inspires Maria to become more passionate and learned. She begins to worry far less about her appearance: ditching her extremely heavy makeup and bright clothes for her “librarian” glasses and a simple, muted dress. These were all aspects about Maria that seemingly needed fixing at the beginning of the movie. She blew off school, she was far too worried about her physical appearance and on top of that, she was pregnant as well. Once Matthew comes into her life, her perspective changes. She writes in her journal about her wishes to become more intelligent and less “young” and “stupid.”

Matthew begins to change as well due to Maria’s influences. He was once a man who could not have cared less about anything he was doing in his life. He was getting fired from jobs he hated. He had so much knowledge and potential but was not channeling it anywhere. He stood up for what he believed in and allowed his morals (and self-righteousness at times) to guide every decision he made. Hence why he refused to repair the TVs. Once he was set on marrying Maria, moving her away from her mother and raising the baby with her, he made drastic changes in his life. He went back to his job so that he could get “practical” hours and benefits for Maria and the baby even though the scam they were running went so deeply against his morals. He started watching TV and being short with her and she confesses to the nurse at the diner how much she wishes she didn’t change him. Even if it happened unknowingly.

Both of these characters are worse off in the end after changing for each other. Matthew ends up getting tricked by Maria’s mother and Maria ends up really disliking the new Matthew. So much so that she goes through with her abortion. In fact Matthew must go back to his original, apathetic self (with the grenade) for them to be together again. They became attracted to each other not in spite of their perceived flaws but because of them. It is similar to how in the Stranger, Marie tells Meursault that the fact that he is so strange is probably the reason why she loves him. Like the TVs, both of these characters would have been better off “unfixed” and “untouched.”

Social and Musical Norms

After focusing on The Stranger and then how various other works of writing and even films took inspiration from it, I began to think about music. If Meursault goes against social norms by doing things such as not participating in the systems of marriage, love and religion, what does music that doesn’t follow social (or musical) norms look like?

Music, like all things, has been put in a system, especially in the United States. Most ‘mainstream’ music sticks to a few keys, is played on certain instruments and due to other musical laws, has a certain sound. Therefore, bands that do not do these things stick out in a very unique way. One band that stuck out to me was the Dirty Projectors. On their early albums, the Dirty Projectors fight against many musical norms. Strange harmonies, instruments that don’t seem to go together and weird lyrics. Many found the music annoying , jarring and hard to follow. The truth is, by breaking many laws of mainstream music, the Dirty Projectors were bound to offend many listeners. Just as Meursault was driven out of society, seemingly inevitably, music that doesn’t fit the norm is hated on to an extreme.

Who is the ‘Robot Woman’ from The Stranger?

After having read and discussed The Stranger, for an extended period of time, one character that has stood out to me is the ‘Robot Woman’ from the restaurant, and later, the trial. While both keep to themselves, the contrast between them is striking. One instance that stood out to me was when she sat across from Meursault at the restaurant. He recounts how she “ordered her whole meal all at once, in a voice that was clear and very fast at the same time. 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). While she seems to have everything figured out for her, in meticulous detail, none of that makes her any more satisfied or better off than anyone else.

Although it cannot be said that she tries to conform to societal systems like love or religion, every action in itself seems to follow a routine. The purposelessness of her routine parallels the futility of clinging to societal systems, and similarly, she doesn’t have any more control over her life than anyone else– she can’t stop Meursault from following her after her meal. However, she is so different from any normal person that she too is an outsider like Meursault. In effect, I feel the ‘Robot Woman’ gives Meursault a binary that he can define himself against, something that represents everything he is not. As a result of their differences, it is likely that Meursault is more content with his life as he doesn’t try to change his circumstances in any way, while the ‘Robot Woman’ is bound to her never-ending routine. 

Is Meursault truly happy?

In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger Meursault the main character thinks vastly different than the average person in society does. He does not value relationships, emotions and bonds the same most of us do. He doesn’t put as much meaning in relationships and lives his life without trying to create them. We see this with Marie who wants to further her relationship with Meursault while he does not want what he thinks are pointless ideas of love and marriage. While there are good parts of his way of life like him being able to live in the moment and cope with difficult situations there are downsides to his ideology.

To many outsiders like those at the funeral and pastor at jail he seems sociopathic. He is apathetic to almost everything, has littler motivation and drive and does not connect with others.

I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone” (123).

If one has to question if ones is happy and only says yes so, they feel less alone, are they happy? I don’t believe that Meursault is happy, and he realized in prison he truly isn’t but as to not admit his life was wasted, he claims he was. He just simply lived one day to the next hardly striving for anything and didn’t have anyone. While some may claim that these ideas are concepts to most, they do bring true happiness. Most people would not be happy if they were in Meursault’s position, and I believe Meursault was not either

How The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” Ties Into The Stranger

In 1982, The Cure released a single titled “Let’s Go To Bed”, a new synth-pop sound that was drastically different from their previous work. To start, lyrics aside, the history of the song also ties into The Stranger in a way; The Cure was known for their gothic rock sound and it was predicted that the song would be hated by traditional fans of the band. However, Robert Smith, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of The Cure disregarded this fact and didn’t care that it may be hated, saying he enjoyed the song so it didn’t matter if it was hated. This could be tied into how Meursault does as he pleases without regard for how it may be received by other people.

As for the lyrics, they can definitely be connected to Meursault’s relationship with Marie and how casual it is, given that he feels little to no attachment to her, only really enjoying her company for casual sex. The chorus of the song is the repeated lines of “It’s just the same – a stupid game/ But I don’t care if you don’t/ And I don’t want it if you don’t/ And I won’t say it if you won’t say it first”. This chorus relates to his relationship with Marie in the sense that Meursault doesn’t attempt to start anything with her beyond casual activities. On his dates with Marie, Meursault often points out the pauses of silence between the two and that if Marie is being quiet, he won’t say anything and just leaves it at that. When Marie asks Meursault if he loves her and wants to marry her, he says that either way it doesn’t matter or make a difference to him but he will go along with what she wants. If Marie had never brought up marriage and love, a conversation about it wouldn’t have happened because Meursault definitely would not want or say that first. Meursault also says during their conversation about marriage that he would’ve said the same thing to any other woman, which could be related to the line “Another girl, another name” in the song.

Overall, both Meursault and “Let’s Go To Bed” frequently speak of causal relationships that don’t have much meaning outside of basic enjoyment, a recurring concept in The Stranger.

What Does “Meursault” Mean?

Albert Camus’ The Stranger was originally published in French, and later was translated into English. Because of this, we can assume that the narrator’s name, “Meursault,” also originated from the French language.

Camus does not seem like the type of person who would choose a name for his narrator at random, specifically because of the depth of the novel. He seems extremely thoughtful, and specific with his word choice.

So what could the name “Meursault” mean?

When “Meursault” is searched on the internet, the first thing that appears is the wine, and the region in which said wine came from. Though it is possible that Camus simply chose the name “Meursault” because he liked the wine, I would like to explore other possible origins.

The most obvious French word that could be found within “Meursault” is the word “meurt,” which means “dies.” This seems the most probable translation of the first part of the name, as death is a major aspect of The Stranger–Meursault doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral, kills a man, and is later sentenced to be executed.

The hardest translation of “Meursault” is the ending part, “(s)ault.” The “s” may be included in the translation, or could be a filler letter. One possibility is that Camus meant to include the french word “sauf,” which means “except,” or “safe.” However, this translation isn’t extremely connected to the story, and is therefore improbable. Another word could be “sauter,” which means “to jump,” or “saule,” which means “willow tree.” Neither of these seem very probable, either. 

Two other possible words that are less explicit within the latter half of “Meursault” are “soleil” and “autre.” “Soleil” translates to mean “sun.” Heat and the sun are constant burdens upon Meursault, so this is a possibility. The other, more intriguing, option is “autre,” which means “other.” This translation, I feel, is the most likely. Meursault is an other in society. He goes against everything that is “normal,” or expected.

So, within the name “Meursault,” we could find prominent aspects of The Stranger: death, and being an anomaly within society.

How the Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger Connect

In The Myth of Sisyphus written by Albert Camus, Sisyphus is condemned to the punishment of pushing a rock up a hill and then watching it roll back down when it gets to the top of the hill, and doing that over and over again. However, throughout his time doing this task over and over again, he has found his happiness because he found his purpose, as long as he keeps pushing the boulder up the hill, he has achieved his purpose. Sisyphus is aware of his future and his fate. Similarly, in The Stranger also written by Albert Camus, Mersault, the main character is put in jail after killing someone. Throughout the story, we see how Mersault shows no empathy. When Mersault is in prison, during an outburst with the chaplain, he realizes that he no longer has freedom. However, he is happy because he accepts his fate.

Both Mersault and Sisyphus are in a lifetime of punishment where they have no freedom. However, they are both happy because they accepted their fate and know what lies in their future. They both found happiness in the situation that they were in. Both stories show the theme of existentialists of meaning and absurdity.

Camus’ Argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” Seen in “The Stranger”

Albert Camus’ argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” is that one can rise above their fate if one accepts it. In context, Sisyphus is repeatedly struggling to push the rock up the mountain, but when it falls back down, he is free from his burden and reflects that his struggle will not get him anywhere. Camus also argues that fate is only bad if people have hope, meaning that if people don’t think there is a better alternative then they can be at peace with their fate in life. In terms of Sisyphus, he knows he is struggling in his situation and accepts that struggle, therefore his punishment could only be bad if he has hope. Camus essentially believes that happiness and absurd awareness are connected and that humans can only be happy when they accept their life and true fate. Therefore, Sysphus is happy because he has accepted his struggle in his eternal fate and has risen above this fate, meaning he can be happy. Camus stating “[o]ne must imagine Sisyphus happy” also shows that he believes humans must be able to be happy through experiences without the reliance on hope or faith because Sisyphus has experienced happiness through his true experiences and accepted his fate. 

In Camus’ novel “The Stranger,” I noticed his argument about Sisyphus was applied to the narrator of the book, Meursault. At the very end of the novel, when Meursault is sentenced to death, he takes a lot of his time to think and reflect. He goes back and forth with himself, trying to decide if he should request an appeal of his sentence. He concludes that everyone is going to die anyway, so he decides to accept the rejection of his appeal. His mind believes that only after accepting that rejection, he can even consider the alternative of him being pardoned. After re-reading this section of “The Stranger,” I realized that Camus’ argument about Sisyphus having to accept his fate to be happy in life applies to Meursault while he is consulting with himself in jail because Meursault is setting himself up to not have any hope, and therefore cannot be disappointed.