THE STRANGER MICHELLE VO

INTRODUCTION

“I’ve come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that made terrible by our own, mad attempt to interpret it as a thought it had an underlying truth.” umberto eco

ENIGMA: a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand

Umberto Eco believes that the whole world is an unsolved mystery. As humans, we try to interpret it even when it's not necessary. The purpose of interpretation is to understand or find sense as if there is a fundamental meaning beneath it.

[ 1 ]

Everyone is responsible for their actions and choices. Under every condition, there is meaning to it; however, it is one’s decision to make the most out of everything.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor

Along with holding the freedom to make the choices that develops our own nature, this also comes with the acceptance of risk and responsibility.

By being the only survivor in his family during World War II, Dr. Viktor Frankl’s perspective of life has demonstrated that he has experienced the worst conditions . Nevertheless, Dr. Frankl understands that to live a life of despair is a life of suffering with no meaning. When we fail to recognize any meaning, we fail to succeed.

The situation cannot be undone; however, our first solution is simply changing our attitude. By aiming for success, this could lead us to finding the purpose in life. Although life can be difficult to unfold, everyone has the freedom to discover the underlying truth.

The whole world may not come with a hidden principle, but if we continue to live life with no motivation, what is the purpose of human existence?

[ 2 ]

An outsider is one who does not belong in a specific environment. There a various opinions of being an outsider. For one, it can be a fatal attraction to rebel against society’s (Coughlan). One can still live a meaningful life by contradicting society’s expectations.

Sean Coughlan, the author of “The Cult of Being the Outsider,” explains how not being part of the crowd is “the process of adolescence to want to play with identity—to try out how someone else might feel.”

This is how we can find our own purpose in life. Others may perceive an individual a certain way, but it is one’s choice to choose how they want to be perceived.

We all have the ability to take risks and learn from those experiences. It is important to find our true identity and what makes us unique, rather than focusing on the standards written by society.

Many readers from The Stranger feel a strong connection to Meursault’s detachment from the society. For example, Aaron Gwyn, the author of the article “Albert Camus’ Poker Faced Stranger Became a Much Needed Friend,” explains how both of them had to constantly reassure themselves that they were like everyone else; however, they soon came to the realization of being completely different.

From this moment forward, Gwyn used the curse of being a “stranger” and found the gift of writing. At the end of his article, the author changed his perspective of Meursault from a stranger to a friend.
It may be considered unacceptable to disconnect from others, but it is more important to connect with ourselves first. By being emotionally detached, we can avoid any pain or sorrow.

[ 3 ]

Nihilism is choosing to believe that life has no purpose. Essentially, everything happens without reasoning. By attempting to live a meaningful life, we may have to face obstacles and challenges.

Meursault’s lack of inner emotion throughout his journey resulted in a carefree life.

The narrator is detached from society because he has no emotional response towards others’ actions. His peers considers his personality as superficial because he fails to understand the reason why others feel a certain way.

By being indifferent and honest with himself, Meursault avoided any direct conflict. Because he is a stranger to society, Meursault doesn’t suffer any emotional pain. He accepts the fact that it does not matter if his life is filled with emptiness because death is inevitable.

There is a fine contrast between the physical and mental state of being. For instance, when Siddhartha lived in a world filled with desire and sensual excitement, he later finds himself lost and disgusted (“Themes and Construction: Siddhartha”).

This demonstrates that following societal norms does not guarantee pure happiness. It may bring a sense of acceptance from the universe, but one can still feel disconnected for not being who they want to be.

It is important to gain self control when trying to unfold the harmless enigma. Although obstacles may arise, life is only meaningful if we give it meaning. One can still be free-free from their emotions, free from thought, and free from others without having to obey society’s expectations.

CONCLUSION

Since life will always be a continuous mystery, we should still attempt to seek our own purpose regardless in an absurd universe.

Despite the obstacles that we must overcome, everyone has the freedom to choose how they live their life.

Along with this freedom of choice, one must take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences. One can still live a meaningful regardless of what society expects of them.

An outsider, who rebels against the social norm, still holds the power to choose their own life. As long as one is seeking their own happiness and purpose, no one has the ability to take that away.

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