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Nothing but a Metaphor - 'The Outsider'.

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Introduction

Alyssa Al-Dookhi December 13, 2003 Nothing but a Metaphor "Why are we here?" The trivialities of man's existence and this question in particular have plagued philosophers and laymen alike for centuries. In The Outsider, the author-and existentialist-Albert Camus states his answer to this question and illustrates his belief that there is no meaning to life and that mankind lives only to die. The author's beliefs are most clearly illustrated in his manifestation of the unimportance of acquaintances, the role of institutions in society, and the people in society themselves. Throughout the novel, many characters are introduced and seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Meursault, who is the voice of the author in the book. As one goes through the story, the author clearly distinguishes that acquaintances are of no consequence since life itself is pointless. When the "peculiar little woman" (45) arrives at Celeste's, the main character is fascinated by her "but fairly soon [forgets] about her" (46). ...read more.

Middle

Camus also introduces the institution of marriage. He states that it "really [does not] matter," (44) because why should someone be concerned with matrimony when it is only part of a hollow life that leads to death and thus the dissolution of this false uniting of souls? In addition, Camus writes through Meursault that he "wasn't interested in her any more if she was dead" (110). Thus, all bonds are broken in the inevitable case of death. Matrimony also plays a large part in another institution that is seen a great deal in the second part of the book: religion. Religion is an institution that plays a major part in the second part of the novel because the protagonist's beliefs-or lack thereof-are questioned. The chaplain in chapter five of part two asks Meursault if he is sure that he does not believe in God and Meursault replies that "it didn't seem to matter" (111). ...read more.

Conclusion

"There at the home, where lives faded away" (116) Camus depicts Madame Meursault and Monsieur Perez as manifestations of society who, knowing that they didn't have much time left on the earth, decide to live their lives by sharing it with someone else. This could be countered by the argument that companions are unimportant, but because these people are trying to stop themselves from seeing the mundane meaninglessness of their lives, they use them to stay comfortable. In his novel, The Outsider, Albert Camus expresses his belief that man's existence is meaningless and that they have nothing to live for because he lives "in the belief that you are to die outright" (112). He asserts this in his novel by using the insignificance of friends and acquaintances, the role of institutions in society as safety nets that people use to blind themselves from the fact that their lives are pointless, and the fact that society needs something to hold on to to make it feel as if they have something to live for rather than just going through the motions of living a full life. ...read more.

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