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The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus

One of the key questions that can be asked by any reader from The Stranger is the mysterious conducts of Meursault. Albert Camus explores the mysterious conducts of this protagonist, who is seen to be living in his own world. Why did he have to detach himself from the rest of society? It is highly unusual for a normal full grown man to portray such a queer behavior. It is of course, so absurd to see him do so funny things like embedding his entire life to his physical surrounding (page 163). To him, the only valuable things were the sorrowful memories from his mother’s departure and enjoyment of sexual intercourse and swimming sessions with Marie, his sweetheart.  

However, the best way to explain Meursault’s weird conducts is by using Camus’ philosophical The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Here, the readers are given an opportunity to make out the answers for various questions that need to be answered in the life of man. Indeed, Meursault did not know that even if things were not in order, despite the numerous obstacles he was facing, he was not supposed to take the law in his hands and boldly murder an Arab neighbor. Instead, he was supposed to believe in the existence of God: a metaphysical being controlling the life of every creature on earth. He later fails to repent claiming that Man is always a victim of his truths.

Once he has admitted that, he cannot redeem himself from them (page 124). As Camus explains, this is quite absurd because, just the same way he writes, suicide should not be regarded as an ultimate remedy to life’s challenges. Even if one does not believe in God, he should not consider suicide as a legitimate action. I therefore, suggest Meursault should be accorded with similar treatment like Sisyphus who was condemned for not being reasonable.

In The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays Camus tries to answer what many believe is the hardest philosophical question in life. On page one, he asks: Does the realization of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily requires suicide? The synthesis of this query helps in the deeper understanding of the mysteries about life. He says that lie being an extremely complex thing, needs a careful attention. For instance, people always need to be optimistic and have high hopes and expectations on the following day. If they are focused on tomorrow, then they will do all that they can in making it better that the previous day.

However, he also explains that, amid all these, people tend to face the concealed reality that people always come closer to death, their greatest enemy as the days go by.  So, even if it is like this, everyone is supposed to show a lot of commitments and dedications in life. It should not be taken for granted because every person is given one life that he or she is fully in charge of. In other words, nobody should give up in life and attempt to commit suicide. He further says that this can not bring any level of bliss to such ill fated fellows.

In The Stranger, Camus uses Meursault to shed more light on the said theme of absurdism. Of course, the life of this character is a typical indication of a conflict between the life’s real meaning, and the human tendency to look for the inherent value attached with it. Even if the life is full of challenges, it should be upon us to make rightful decisions that are aimed at making life better. A person reading this article may ask himself a lot of questions that made him do such things.

The hero consciously opts to retain some circumstances as the sad memories about the death of his beloved mum. Maybe it is because she had helped him to be who he was at the time. Another unplanned incidence in the life of this character is how he found himself being juxtaposed to Marie at a public bench. It is quite strange how the two love birds who had not known one another before, meet and establish an instant love that later culminates into a marriage.

Similarly, it requires an extensive philosophical concept to explain the reason why Meursault treats other people more like animals. For example, he was not justified to kill an innocent Arab neighbor for the sole sake of love. Indeed, his life consists of a funny history that spirals from one stage to another. The occurrence of one incidence automatically leads to another.

Moreover, Camus uses The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays to tell the readers about the way how in their right minds to make decisions that are worth calling philosophical suicide. For instance, a person choosing to be conservative and accepting a blind religion ends up, in the opinion of the author, failing to think. Such people do believe in the supremacy of God, but fail to use their brain to make reasonable and more rational decisions. These are the likes of people who live in their own world of absurdity. They do not enjoy freedom of the mind, a belief excluding them from having life goals that can help him in being hopeful of a happier future.

In The Stranger, Camus tells us of Meursault who in his existential life kills a friend because of infringing his freedom with Marie. After being thrown into the jail, he turns down the chaplain’s offer of asking for forgiveness from God. Instead, he insists on asserting his disbelief in the super natural as a waste of time. He says that he should be sentenced to the appropriate time as specified by the law. He believes that this is what he deserves because it is the fairest consequence of his offence. Instead of repenting his sins and abandoning atheism, he gets ready for the execution awaiting him minutes before he comes into terms with the realties of life. This can be explained by the first novel, as a real philosophical issue that can only be interpreted by either of the school of thoughts given by the classical philosophers in the past decades.

Camus also uses Sisyphus as a tool for explaining the philosophical conditions in The Stranger. Sisyphus comes out as an immensely complicated fellow who confidently faces all the hurdles of life. He is an absurd hero who lives life to the fullest (page 118) but hates death. On the other hand, Meursault uses his sensory perceptions to accept to face the death penalty. To him, it does not matter what waits since he is particularly ready for whatever is coming. Hence, despite the physical terror he is undergoing, he fully readies himself for the death penalty. He sees this as fulfillment because it will make him emotionally satisfied if he gets the revelation he is claiming.  

I would like to agree that the puzzles that surrounded the mysterious life of Meursault in The Stranger can be answered using the complicated philosophical concepts in The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. It is accepted; the kind of relationships that existed between Meursault, Marie, and Raymond, Meurslaut’s (late) mother, Salamano, and the Robbot Lady was extraordinary. The information got concerning the death of Meurslaut’s mother opens a new page in his life. Later, he experienced a love at first sight after encountering Marie whom he later married. This marriage fulfills his life because he could now think that life was all complete since he could now enjoy swimming in the company of his wife.  Similarly, his attachment to Marie later landed him into more problems: he found himself assaulting Raymond and later killing another Arabic man because of this. He was arraigned in the court of law before getting sentenced to execution, a charge he was not worried about.

Camus explains these scenarios in the chapter two of the book when he declares that the life of an absurd man is very different from that of any other person. He says that such a person should base their life on integrity and higher powers that will make it easier for them to justify their lifestyle and actions. He adds that no ethical standards could be applied to them because everything is allowed in their understanding. This is really proved when he talks of Don Juan, a serial seducer, who could do anything to lead a fully passionate life.

This is why people like Meurslaut could courageously do anything perverse to any ethical fellow in order to satisfy themselves. I am quite sure that he was not aware of the existence of any rule or the accepted ethical code of conduct required from him. Hence, he could assault, kill and lead a rare atheistic life.