‘The Outsider’, Albert Camus


What was the ‘game’ which Meursault refused to play? Discuss.


The novella ‘The Outsider’ written by Albert Camus is a story about Meursualt, an existentialist who lives life by a theory which emphasizes the importance of being an individual, enjoying life by appreciating each day as if comes and does not believe in scientific principals. Meursualt also lives life by the philosophy of the absurd which considers existence as meaningless, chaotic and random. By refusing to abide by the unwritten rules of society, Meursualt strives to live his life as an individual, being true to himself and others around him rather than conform like many other characters in the novel which Camus uses to compare him to.


Meursualt is a character who believes that one can only be true to themselves if they have individual thoughts that are not influenced by other people’s feelings or things. When his mother died, Meursualt did not cry at her funeral, nor did he seem to remember the day she passed away “Mother died today. Or was it yesterday. I don’t know”, or even her age. Immediately Meursualt is seen as unconscionable, indifferent character but in reality he was being honest to himself and others by not behaving the way society had expected him to act after his mother’s death. Death, according to the absurd theory, to Meursualt is seen as something that can arrive anytime in life and instead of crying and mourning over his mother’s death, Meursualt accepts her passing away and moves on with his life by going to the beach, watching a movie with Marie. This is later used against him in his trail for murdering the Arab to make him look like a emotionless, uncaring monster.


A belief from the existentialism philosophy is that knowledge arrives through sensory experience and not from materiality. Meursualt uses his senses to appreciate the things that often people forget like the heat from the sun or the chill from the breeze. He enjoys sensual things like the feel, smell and sight of Marie and the blaze of the sun. By doing so, Meursualt t interprets life and the truth through his senses. He believes that that happiness can only be achieved when honesty is presented to himself and others around because it is easy to lie to people around you but more importantly its easy to lie to yourself.


By not conforming to the ways of society, Meursualt doesn’t judge people by listening to gossip or what they do but rather for who they are. His relationship with Raymond is an example of this. Meursualt agrees to be friends with Raymond ‘I didn’t mind being his mate’ and helps him the letter to his mistress because like himself, Raymond is an outsider. Society doesn’t accept Raymond because he is a ‘pimp’ and he doesn’t fit into society, legally or socially and therefore is considered an outcast like Meursualt. They are both individuals who are honest to themselves and do what makes them happy no matter what other people say or think.


All people in society are in search for the meaning of life as well as on their road to achieve their goals. Meursualt believes that life is something meaningless, unpredictable and absurd and that the attempt to find the meaning of life is a pointless and endless pursuit. This is because death can arrive at any moment and what was achieved in life would no longer be there. Meursualt doesn’t conform to society’s unwritten rules because he knows that whatever he says and does won’t mean anything in the end anyway.


Meursualt doesn’t behave the way society expects him to. He believes that being an individual and not conforming to society will achieve the best out of life and most importantly the truth of ones life and happiness. By conforming to society, one loses sight of the simple pleasures in life such as the smell, touch, taste, sight and sound of things around them. By conforming to society and behaving the way that society expects one to, the truth of individuality is lost and Meursualt believes that he is most happy when he is an individual with thoughts of his own, not influenced by others.


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