Absurdism In Albert Camus's The Outsider

1500 Words 6 Pages
“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know” (9). The very introduction to Albert Camus’s The Outsider begins what becomes a novel that then becomes a great example of the absurdist philosophy. Absurdism can be defined as the notion that there is no universal truth or meaning to life, and that the quest for such things is completely futile. The view that everything is inane and that a point cannot be made for the universe is suggested all throughout the novel, particularly through the actions and relationships of the protagonist Meursault. His passive experiences and his mentality regarding them reveal countless absurdist points such as a disregard for love, human life, and religion. Throughout the novel, Camus depicts these philosophies …show more content…
This is a key point to his character: Meursault’s physical needs incriminated him. For example, his desire for a cigarette at his mother’s vigil was completely inappropriate and was later used against him in court. On this, he remarks that, “I then wanted a cigarette. But I hesitated because I didn’t know if I could smoke in front of mother. I thought it over, it really didn’t matter” (14). At the beach, the hot sun ‘drove’ him to shoot the Arab, acknowledged by Meursault on page 59 with, “I realized I only had to turn round and it would all be over. But the whole beach was reverberating in the sun and pressing against me from behind.” These physical needs which he references cause his apparent disregard for human life. During his trial, this fault is one expressed by the Public Prosecutor, who proclaims, “‘Has he even expressed any regrets? Never, gentlemen’” (97). For both deaths which occur during the course of Camus’s novel, Meursault shows no real remorse - or true emotions - at any point. He accepts the events and moves along in his life. To Meursault, these are all simple events. “I thought my case was very simple,” he expresses on page 63, and later on page 66, “I told him that it was all very simple.” The feelings which do not exist for him …show more content…
The biggest reflection of this is in his rejection of religion offered to him by the chaplain. He remarks that “I just couldn’t accept such an absolute certainty” (105). A popular belief is that religion gives meaning to life, such that the state of living does not end when one dies. To Meursault, it is an idea meant to give comfort to human beings as they move through their lives, assuring them that there is meaning. This notion is conveyed on page 68: “That was his belief, and if [the chaplain] should ever doubt it, his life would become meaningless. ‘Do you want my life to be meaningless?’ he cried. As far as I was concerned, it had nothing to do with me and I told him so.” As such, Meursault does not accept religion. His discussion with the chaplain and following thoughts lead to the ultimate argument for expression of Camus’ ideas. On page 112, Meursault’s lack of hope for life is revealed through a conversation with the Chaplain: “His voice didn’t falter either when he said, ‘Have you really no hope at all and do you live in the belief that you are to die outright?’ ‘Yes,” I said.” Meursault’s stream of consciousness reveals his truest thoughts, the ultimate expression of the notion that life is pointless, of absurdism: “But everybody knows that life isn’t worth living. And when it came down to it, I wasn’t

Related Documents