Meursault in The Stranger by Camus appears as a comatose person who makes his decision at the last minute. He is unreasonable in the society as he disobeys its rules and habits, so he deserves his execution after he killed an Arab in the process of self-defense. Although, Meursault seems implausible and unfriendly at the beginning, at the end of the novel, he exposes his appreciation on his own life as a human. Camus in his thoughtful essay collection, The Myth of Sisyphus, provides much evidence and opinions that support and explain Meursault’s actions. By presenting the craziness in his essays, Camus characterized Meursault as a person who lives under Camus’ philosophy on existentialism. Meursault existents without hope; he illustrates Camus’ abstract notion that humans lack choices and desires, and no one realizes that the world itself is absurd.
Throughout Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault, instead of having a clear idea of what he will be doing, does whatever he wants no matter when. Undoubtedly, the readers will decide whether he does not appreciate the social habits and plans for his life, by first reading The Stranger. For example, Meursault decides to go for a comedy movie on the day after his mother’s funeral rather than soaking into despair and pasting from the public. By reading only The Stranger, such behaviors constitute acts of emotionlessness and cruelty. His acts are random, and contradictory to his claim, “I was sure about me, about everything…sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me” (The Stranger 120). However, The Myth of Sisyphus provides a new insight on his randomness. In Camus’ view, Meursault is a person who lives without hope. Hope in Camus’ philosophy is “to live, not for life itself but for some great idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it a meaning, and betray it” (The Myth of Sisyphus 8). Camus sees faith as a negative word because when people are holding certain expectations and excitement in their minds, they stop giving power to life. In Camus’ words, “it is a matter of dying” (The Myth of Sisyphus 13). On the other hand, Meursault gives no credits to the future or to the uncertainty; he knows nothing is certain, and that is inevitability about his life (The Myth of Sisyphus 53). Meursault is the one who is living. He lives for today, regarding his own intuition and free will. Thus, he never sacrifices his freedom of acts for anyone, includes his mother. Thereby, he experiences segregation in society.
All characters except Meursault set into the process of “living before acquire the habit of thinking” (The Myth of Sisyphus 8). Hence, no one can see the value of living, and no one can get Meursault’s choices, neither on the Sunday after his mother’s funeral, or on the hot day when he shot the Arab. These characters believe that Meursault must call for his dead mum; he must be a devastating man since he has a friend who is a pimp. These people judge others by their first impression. Thus, when the verdict and the judge notice that Meursault has performed contrary to their expectations and their ordinary senses, they now consider Meursault as an emotionless murderer. According to Camus’ idea, holding all these assumptions and expectations on future stops their attempt to stay. Everyone in The Stranger is living like a dead man (The Stranger 120). A dying culture cannot accept Meursault because he is truly living and that is ridiculous.
This absurd evidence reveals the fact that people do not have choices or free wills. They live in the characters, which shaped by social expectation. Their own habits fix them. People give up on the opportunity to follow their own desire, but to live in a reputation, as Camus expresses, “Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm” (The Myth of Sisyphus 12). Their freedom of action, as well as Meursault’s, were under cancellation.
People think that they have their freedom of action. They satisfy with the freedom they have, but they give their entire lives to be actors. Camus explains in The Myth of Sisyphus, “by losing themselves in their god, by accepting his rules, they become secretly free” (The Myth of Sisyphus 58-59). By saying that, Camus implies people are not free. Instead, these individuals are subject to modification by rules and beliefs. This philosophy gives a new insight on many scenes in The Stranger. For instance, at the vigil of Miss Meursault, all the attempters cry for her except Meursault. After reading The Myth of Sisyphus, crying over the dead is one of the social habits. These old men and women have no choice, but weep for Miss Meursault because that is what they learn and understand. They cry, but they do not think of the point of crying or the fact they are crying to get. They automatically assume that crying is to express their grief on Miss Meursault. Could that be a plea on the prospect of their future, on their own funerals sooner or later? They do not know because they have no desire for the entire life. They live as life and conditions force them to their deaths.
Meursault, on the other hand, acts for his own conviction and feelings. Is he a free man thereby? In The Stranger, when Marie asks if Meursault will marry her, he answers that he does not care (41). Obviously, by saying that he does not care, Meursault opens his fortune to all possibilities. He does not feel restrained by his promise on marriage, or lose Marie’s suggestion. Although, Meursault satisfies his will and desire, he has to live merely because his attitude toward life is different from everyone else in the novel. As an individual, Meursault is a totally free man; however, he is not in his society. His actions go on to net criticism from people around him. Meursault pays for his room with his life. As an outsider, to the society, Meursault finally gets his fatal end.
At the end of The Stranger, Meursault realizes that the world is illogical just like him. He finds peace and becomes daring to his death. In jail solely, Meursault accepts his death because he recognizes that the world is so much like himself and like a brother (122-123). Explained in The Myth of Sisyphus, “the world in itself is not reasonable…The unreasonable depends as much on people as on the world. For the moment it is all that links them together” (21). Meursault, at this point, shares the insanity with the world; he finally realizes that, for every life, there is death. He reconciles to his death. Though, Meursault will be executes the next morning, he sees death as another opening, “so close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again…And I felt ready to live it all again, too” (The Stranger, 122). The earth itself and Meursault are unfounded and irrational. This absurdity is everywhere in the world. This irrationality rules all characters and shapes the nation the way it is. To live freely, Meursault must get rid of the absurdity. According to The Myth of Sisyphus, “There can be no absurd outside the human mind. Thus, like everything else, the absurd ends with death” (12). Since Meursault has understood that death is the only solution to stop this senseless behavior, he reconciles to his death.
Meursault seems like a sociopath in The Stranger, but he is, in fact, a microcosm of Camus’ views on existentialism. Through reading The Myth of Sisyphus, Meursault redefines as a person lives philosophically. Meursault is the only one who exists as living in The Stranger. He has no expectation to any uncertainty. He lives for the moment and for himself, while the others behave like dead men. At the end, Meursault gets execution, his life is significant, because he has made it with his effort.