– Meursault Makes Us Feel As If Nothing Seems To Matter. Discuss. Essay, Research Paper
Meursault, the main character and narrator of The Outsider, is perceived to be a life-loving and self-centred man, who lives his existential life in Algiers. This novel, by Albert Camus, suggests that nothing seems to matter to Meursault. His nothing-seems-to-matter attitude is manifested through his indifference nature, which can constantly be observed in the novel. Meursault?s attitude towards death supports the fact that he is relatively indifferent. Meursault?s refusal to think of the future also adds credibility to the manifestation that nothing seems to matter to him. Both his passive nature and his desire for physical comfort also prove that nothing deserves his concern.
Meursault?s attitude towards death reveals his indifferent nature. Meursault lives existentially and knows that his life will terminate one day. Life is all a person possesses, and there is no intrinsic meaning in life. He also believes that death is a normal event that marks the conclusion of a person. After learning about his mother?s death, Meursault experiences no grief. He does not believe in the rituals performed for his mother. He only attends the funeral of his mother because he needs to satisfy the social expectations of a son. It can be seen here that Meursault has no worries about death at all. The killing of the Arab certainly triggered the commencement of a dark period in Meursault?s life. However, after he has ended the life of the Arab, he does not reveal that he is concerned about the Arab?s death at all. He does not feel outraged about the death of the Arab simply because he believes that death is just a natural event of life. No matter how a man dies, his death is inevitable. Meursault does not want to die. When in custody, and at the corner of his death, Meursault does not seem to be worried about his death at all. Rather, he attempts to make meaning out of his short-lived life. Normally, a person would be afraid of death. People would normally be worried about death. When a loved one has died, people would normally grief over the loss. When a person has been killed, the killer would normally go through a period of anxiety. When facing their own deaths, people would usually think of ways to avoid death. However, in each of these examples, Meursault?s attitude is different. He believes that death is natural and unavoidable. Therefore, he would definitely not be alarmed or worried about anybody?s death and this attitude of Meursault leaves the reader with an impression that Meursault is indifferent. Therefore, Meursault?s attitude towards death clearly highlights that nothing seems to matter to him.
Meursault?s refusal to think of the future is evidence that nothing seems to matter to him. It can be seen that Meursault?s existential lifestyle involves enjoying the present moment, and the present moment only. Meursault does not plan the future, nor is there a need for him to reflect on the past. He simply takes the present moment and tries to enjoy it. When his employer decides to promote him to a position in Paris, Meursault rejects the offer, justifying his refusal with the fact that he is currently very happy with his life. This shows that Meursault has no ambition. Achieving an ambition involves planning the future. Meursault has no ambition, which supports the view that he does not think ahead. It can be seen from various examples that Meursault does not want to change his lifestyle. On Sundays, Meursault sits on the balcony and watches the world. He has lunch at Celeste?s. He goes to work during the week. When the weekend comes, he will sit on his balcony again. His life is extremely routined and no changes happen. Because Meursault does not expect any changes, he does not think of the future but instead, he just lives the present moment. His reluctance to think of the future arouses a sense that he does not seem to care about anything. Meursault has never thought of getting married. This indicates that he is only processing thoughts and feelings that occur in the present. He does not know what is going to happen in the future, which encourages him further to neglect thinking of the future. His refusal to plan his future shows that he is detached and does not care about what is going to happen. Therefore, Meursault?s unwillingness to consider the future indicates that nothing matters to him.
Meursault?s passive nature is a manifestation of the perception that nothing matters to him. He leaves everything down to ?chance.? He does not take initiative in determining his behaviour but rather, he waits for objects or people to trigger his actions. His passive nature can also be seen when, after returning home from work, Raymond invites Meursault for wine and pudding. Meursault was about to cook dinner for himself, but Raymond?s invitation has changed his behaviour. He accepts the invitation only because he has been invited. He does not deliberately seek Raymond. From this, it can be seen that Meursault crosses the bridge only when it comes. This indicates his passive nature. Meursault believes that it is impossible to alter his fate, so he leaves everything to fate. Here, the reader can rediscover his passive nature. Meursault?s willingness to allow things to pass as they come is a sign that nothing really seems to concern him. Therefore, Meursault?s passive nature shows that nothing matters to him.
Meursault?s desire for physical comfort imputes a sense that he is blas? and indifferent. During the trial, Meursault focuses mainly on the heat, when there is a more important thing ? his trial ? that he should be worried about. Also, his constant mentioning of physical discomfort throughout the novel creates a sense that Meursault is only worried about small things instead of the big picture. Meursault?s physical desires signal him not being pragmatic. Therefore, his physical desires magnify the perception that nothing seems to matter to him.
Meursault?s unconcerned mentality towards death, unwillingness to view the future, passive nature and physical desires suggest that nothing seems to matter to him.