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The Stranger

The Stranger

by Albert Camus

Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd Theme

The Stranger reflects Camus’s philosophical stance as an absurdist. Is there a logical meaning to life? Is there some higher order or law governing it? Some rational explanation to the chaos and nonsense? Indeed, can we make sense of life at all? The answer from The Stranger to these questions is a categorical "No." There is no truth, no certainty, nor any unwavering, non-relative laws in life – and there is no sense in pursuing such impossibilities.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

  1. It is difficult for Meursault to explain his motivation(s) for killing the Arab. Do the reasons he cite comment on the absurd? Are the reasons he cite irrational? Are they justifiable? And if they are irrational, irrational compared to what? Is "logical" not a relative word?
  2. Based on absurdity as defined in The Stranger, can an absurdist live a good, meaningful life without believing in the possibility of it rationally? Are all absurdists doomed to toil through life senselessly, or can they live on affirmatively?
  3. From an absurdist’s viewpoint, is Meursault more "free" in prison or outside it?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Meursault views his murder of the Arab as something that just "happened" at the sun-drenched beach, irrational and without premeditation. Insofar as the concept of responsibility is involved, such an explanation is utterly indefensible. Insofar as absurdist tenets are involved, Meursault’s explanation is at least possible.

Critics have stated that Absurdism is essentially meaningless because acceptance of it entails a life without meaning. This is incorrect; within the tenets of Absurdism, life can be meaningful despite its not having a rational order.

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