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Though a piece of fictional literature, The Stranger is an embodiment of an actual philosophical movement that took rise in the 20th century, existentialism.

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Alma Guadalupe Luna Candidate Number: Words: 1216 Though a piece of fictional literature, "The Stranger" is an embodiment of an actual philosophical movement that took rise in the 20th century, existentialism. This term was given to writers and philosophers of the time, including Albert Camus, who dared question the absurdity of the universe. Existentialism is the belief that no outside force mandates everyday life, that regardless of luck, fate, or religious beliefs we are all condemned to the same ending, death. It is the sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. (Solom 2) It makes sense then that Camus would write the setting of this novel in 1942, subsequent to the First World War and towards the end of the imperialist era, since it was a period in history of despair, angst, and alienation. In this particular novel Camus gives expression of this philosophy through the "quintessential existential hero" of the story Mersault. Camus wants him to depict to readers what it would be like to exist oblivious to feelings and the standards of ethics and morals set by the general populace, he gives Mersault the task of living a life numb to society as whole. ...read more.


Time and time again he basis his decisions on his physical needs over his emotional ones. Just as he does during his mother's vigil when he decides to smoke and drink coffee despite his hesitation on 1 whether it is proper or not. "He offered to bring me a cup of coffee with milk. I like milk in my coffee, so I said yes.... I drank the coffee. Then I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated, because I didn't know if I could do it with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn't matter..." (Ward 13) Even after the funeral he goes on displaying a sentiment of unattachment as he states that his own mother's death marked no real difference in his life. "It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed." (Ward 23) At first the reader might be fooled into believing that Mersault really is a man who is isolated from the world, but careful observation brings to light that in actuality he is externally very sensitive and aware. ...read more.


This epitome is what enables him to completely rid and empty himself of hope, thus allowing him to at long last open up "to the gentle indifference of the world." (Ward 116) Whereas earlier Meursault wanted to be isolated from the world, he now felt like part of it. It was upon the arrival of death that he saw the relation between his indifference and that of the world, who doesn't seem to notice when one of its inhabitants dies. He felt a sort of kinship through this established connection between the two, "finding it so much like myself - so like a brother, really -" and satisfied with the result of his life hoped that "there be a large crowd of spectators" on the day of his execution to greet him with "cries of hate". (Ward 117) 2 Citation Page Crowell, Steven, "Existentialism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/existentialism/>. Robert C. Solomon, Existentialism (McGraw-Hill, 1974, pp. 1-2). Livingston, James et al. Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century (Fortress Press, 2006, Chapter 5: "Christian Existentialism"). Camus, Albert, and Matthew Ward. The Stranger. New York, NY: Vintage International, 1989. Print. ...read more.

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