The Stranger by Albert Camus is a novel about a man who decides to commit a senseless murder and is subsequently sentenced to death. This crime threw him into an existential crisis, as he had to choose between escaping the death penalty and embracing it.
This article seeks to analyze the author’s theme of existential choice in The Stranger by Albert Camus. It will explore how existentialism leads to an awareness of finitude and to a sense of anxiety, leading the individual to make choices that determine their identity and life.
What is Existential Choice?
Existential choice is the act of choosing to live one’s life in a certain way or not. Existential choice is the idea that we have no control over the life that is chosen for us. We are, in other words, slaves of our existences. It’s not the individual choices we make that shape our lives, but rather those made for us by society and culture. One example of this is when Camus talks about “neither rebellion nor suicide.” The Stranger does not rebel against his tragic life of alienation and isolation by killing himself. Instead, he chooses to rebel by continuing to live his authentic life.
How Does This Existential Choice Affect Us?
One of the themes of The Stranger, is the idea that when presented with a choice, we are in some way forced to consider what it means to be human. We can’t just blindly choose one option over another because all options affect how we see ourselves and our life. For example, what does it mean to choose to not participate in society? What would happen if we chose to believe in an absurd lie? These choices force us to deeply consider what they say about who we are and where we fit into this world.
The Stranger and the Theme of Existential Choice
Meursault, a main character in the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, must make an existential choice about whether to live for himself or for society. The novel mainly explores the consequences that come with living for oneself, and Young chooses this option. He weaves in and out of various relationships with people but never commits to any one person. As a result of his lifestyle, he finds himself feeling restless, without meaning or purpose in life. Without any connections to people who can provide him meaning or purpose, he ultimately decides that life is meaningless and seeks death.
The story is about how the protagonist, Meursault, reacts to his mother’s death and the absurdity of life. He has an existentialist view on life and chooses to live without any value or reason. This decision leads him to kill a man at the beach who was bothering him on a hot sunny day which resulted in him being sentenced to death.
What is a stranger? The Stranger is anything that disrupts the order and balance of society. This disruption can be physical (such as the invasion of a foreign army), or it can be metaphysical (such as the ideas promoted by philosophers). The Stranger in “The Stranger” is both physical and metaphysical. In fact, Meursault is a stranger to himself, because he doesn’t make any connection between his own actions and the consequences they have on others. He also has no fear of death until it’s too late because there are no real consequences for him.
The theme of existential choice is present throughout the book. There are many different existential ideas of choice discussed in this book such as choosing what to wear, choosing what to eat, and choosing which job to take. The Stranger by Albert Camus is a story that revolves around the question of whether the individual can commit to an existential choice.
The theme of existential choice is prevalent in Camus’ The Stranger. This can be seen through the character’s alienation and their refusal to think about the suicide that they committed. They are not content to just simply exist because they want to deny the truth of what they did. In fact, they refuse to believe that it would even make a difference if they were able to understand it.
The Stranger is a precursor to the existentialist movement of the 20th century. The novel is most notable for its overt rejection of meaning and moral value, as well as its negation of God’s existence. By this, it gives a sense that life has no meaning or purpose.
On top of this, there are moments when it appears as if the protagonist is searching for meaning in his own life. In one scene he says, “I live my entire life in search of the moment when all will be revealed to me.” These existential questions create tension throughout the book and make readers reflect on their own lives and mortality.
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