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Existentialism seen in The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz and The Stranger by Albert Camus.

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Introduction

Serene Xefos WLP 2- Rough Draft Mrs. Casey English HL II February 22, 2004 "If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur in this life" and "You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." Both of these quotes are famous quotes, by the existentialist Albert Camus. Existentialism is a concept with no precise definition; it is an idea, with many different 'levels' of thinking, that branch off into different theological beliefs. In its simplest form, existentialism stresses an individual's existence, and consequently focuses on subjectivity, individual freedom and personal choice. Not all existentialists share the same beliefs and there are many variations amongst existential beliefs; for example, an existentialist can be an atheist or a theist, can be moralistic or amoralistic and can believe in predetermination or free will. In the book The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz, the protagonist, Said, shared a similar sense of alienation from family, friends and society as Mersault the protagonist in The Stranger by Albert Camus. Their alienation stemmed from their existentialist theologies and their actions and justifications for these actions were similar; they also shared a common fate, death. ...read more.

Middle

I wanted a cigarette. But I hesitated because I didn't know if I could smoke in front of mother. I thought it over, it didn't really matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked." (Camus 14). He could not wait to get back to the city, but upon his arrival the very next day, he decided to go to the beach where he met an old friend of his, Marie. He took her home that night and they went to a movie, all this the day after his mother's death. One last example of how Mersualt was an existentialist is evident in the moment when he was facing the Arab on the beach with his gun pointed at him. "I realized at that point that you could either shoot or not shoot" (Camus 57), it was that simple to him, he perceived everything as being either just black or white, nothing was ever gray, just as everything else was in his life. He never thought of consequences or the meaning of his actions, and for this he was abandoned by his friends, society and for this, eventually put to death. Said, the protagonist of The Thief and the Dogs, was in many ways similar to Mersualt. Said's equivalent of Marie was Nur, although she was a prostitute. Even when all Said's friends and Nabawiyya and Sana, who were his only family, abandoned him. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was as though he had angered God and brought His wrath down upon him for not having the faith. The way that existentialists perceive life and the world that we live in makes them unique in the way that they act in society. They don't react, feel and think about most things in life the way most 'normal' people do, and as a result of this they usually stand out in the community and remain detached and aloof. This was certainly the case with Said and Mersault. In a way they lived in their own worlds; their actions, which were completely unacceptable to the rest of society, were completely logical to them, and through their eyes and the way that they perceived the world around them, their actions were completely justified. It was this very way of thinking and approaching life that brought both protagonists to their doom. Both Said and Mersault struggled against society's attempts to understand their actions and to read rational explanations into their actions, and because to society their actions seemed absurd, neither Said nor Mersault could be understood. For this reason they were completely alienated from society and eventually paid with their lives. The irony in this is that Said and Mersault, the same way that society could not see their logic, just could not understand society and the way others perceived the world around them; because of this, they saw society and all of life as absurd. Word Count: 2,460 1 ...read more.

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