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The Stranger In Me

Albert Camus’s The Stranger is about a man, named Meursalt, who gets caught up in trouble because he doesn’t think of the relevance of his actions, or how they shape his character. His mother dies, and he does not seem very sad. Meursalt, who never thinks for himself, and only goes along with suggestions. When his girlfriend asks to get married, he says they will get married if she wants to, and the two become engaged. This passive nature later leads to his conviction of a murder (which he did commit), because he is portrayed as cold and unloving. He spends much of his days just doing “things,” and merely wastes time. This book made me aware of how important time, integrity, and character are in the world.
Before reading The Stranger, I never looked at the daily humdrum activity as anything monumental. However, the main character spends much of his time describing his daily activities. The minute details in the novel made me aware of how much of my n time is consumed by the “little things” of daily life. I had never thought about how much time I waste, when I could be doing useful things. This was especially eye-opening because of the presence of existentialism in the novel.

Camus was an existentialist, and believed that people are defined by their actions more so than their words (though there is more to existentialism, and I do not agree with all of it, or everything contained in the novel). In essence, if I act kindly towards people, I am a kind person – regardless of what I say. This idea reemphasized the importance of personal integrity in my life (and others’). As a writer, I love words, but I must act in harmony with my ideas and opinions if I wish to really become who I want to be. I have never really thought of the world as a bunch of little interactions. I’d always viewed it more on a global, goal-oriented scale, as opposed to a chain of actions, interactions, and reactions. The Stranger made me realize that if I want to accomplish all of my goals, I must use each action in my best interest, as well as in the interest of others.

The combination of existentialism and minutia made me realize why people often get themselves into ruts. Instead of doing every action with awareness of how it does or does not add to his or her personality, people do activities simply to get them done. This helped me understand a lot of people in the world – who before may have seemed disinterested, when in reality they may be lost – and motivate me to become a better person, not just through success in achieving my goals, but in acting with integrity.




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