While many originally thought Camus wrote his prose from only the angle of Existentialism, he himself was not truly an Existentialist. He was actually regarded more as an Absurdist. We see both philsophies in "The Stranger". What is the distinction?
-absurdists like Camus believe that there are no rational for the elements of life
- no redeeming purpose and one cannot make sense of it
-When we die, we die, there is no other solitary purpose,
-belief that our desire for meaning is greater than the capacity of the universe to provide meaning
-we can try all we want to make sense of things, but it's pointless
-human beings live in essential isolation in a meaningless, and irrational world
- Existentialists hold a belief that there is nothing that is predetermined
- our choices and actions can determine our lives
-we can make choices within the ethical system we construct
-uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience, indifferent to universe, must make our own meaning
-human existence is unexplainable, but we must take responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
Chapter one reflection
Meursault appears heartless for failing to express grief or even to care about his mother’s death in chapter one. We shouldn't be so quick to judge him though, or else we risk missing Camus' point. "The Stranger", while it explores the philosophy of the absurd, should not be interpreted as a novel that will teach us a moral lesson. Camus’s philosophy of the absurd sees the world and human beings as having no real purpose or meaning. The universe is indifferent to human struggles, and Meursault's actions and personality embody this philosophy. Meursault does not see any meaning or significance behind his mother's death, it's not part of some higher structure so therefore he's able to continue about his day, observe people, eat regularly, go on a date, have sex and live his seemingly normal existence. This is a difficult notion for us to understand because we are always trying to attach meaning to things. The idea that things happen for no reason and that events sometimes have no meaning can be disruptive to our thinking. Accepting that life is meaningless and there is no reason to live can be cause for a major crisis. What's the point of living if we all die anyway? Existentialists would say that we are responsible for creating that meaning in our lives, while absurdists would ask, "What's the point?"
Chapter 1-2 questions and Sisyphus-respond on the blog!
1.Why was it odd that Madam Meursault desired a religious burial?
2. Does Meursault give an explanation for wanting/not wanting to see the open casket? Why would someone respond in this way? In your opinion, is this normal behavior?
3. Where is the caretaker from? His age?
4. Describe Meursault’s dream-like experience beginning on page 9. What is happening?
5. What is the purpose of holding a vigil? How long does it last?
6. What is Thomas Perez’s relationship with Maman?
Chapter 2 Questions
1.On page 21, what hint is the reader given as to where Meursault lives?
2. What does Meursault choose to do on Sunday? What does this demonstrate about his character/personality?
3. What does Meursault mean when he says, "It occurred to me....really, nothing had changed." (See last sentence on page 24 for clarification).
1. Which act of Sisyphus's fate differs from his life?
2. If Camus were to dramaticize the Myth of Sisyphus, what kind of drama would it be?
3. Why must we be happy for Sisyphus at the end of the story when he is doomed to repeat his same fate?