The Stranger

Absurdity in The Stranger

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the main character, Mersault, is confronted with life’s absurdity after killing a man at a beach in Algiers. Mersault spends his days absorbed in living for the moment, granting little import to the past or future, until the day when his world is shattered by this inexplicable act of violence. Despite continuously claiming that one path is the same as another and that nothing in life truly matters, Mersault frequently reveals thoughts and actions to the contrary; indeed, even his decision to commit murder can be viewed as an intentional attempt to upend his world. For the majority of the novel, in fact, it’s unclear whether the main character is candidly living by his proclaimed beliefs or is just convincing himself of this in a doomed attempt to avoid the burden of emotion. When the trial following the protagonist’s crime finally hurls Mersault face-to-face with his own beliefs, he’s compelled to reexamine his values. As Mersault arrives at a gradual acceptance of life’s harsh realities, the reader, too, is obliged to scrutinize the passions ruling his own existence.

The first oddity a reader may note in The Fall is the lack of dialogue. Rather than allowing insight into the main character’s...

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