Living Without Answers Cynthia Diaz, Period 3

Finding meaning in life can be a hard goal to accomplish, but the main problem can be that people get stuck in a loop trying to find an answer, instead of going out and living life.

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempts to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” (Umberto Eco)


Life is an enigma--full of questions--that we cannot decipher and whenever we try to grasp an answer we understand even less. Life has no answers for any of us, and the sooner we realize that, the more content we can live.


Whenever we are in dire situations, we try to look for answers to our problems, but this just makes it more complicated. The answer we are looking for is not the one we need, which is to realize that we should just live our lives, without seeking a higher purpose.

Evidence #1

“There were others worse off than me. Anyway, it was one of Maman’s ideas, and she often repeated it, that after a while you could get used to anything.” (Albert Camus, "The Stranger”)

The Stranger follows the main points of a character, that reflects Camus strong belief in life’s absurdity. Meursault shows an indifference for emotions, people, and harsh situations in his life. Meursault’s trial for first degree murder exposes his ideology and belief in a meaningless universe, where everyone from the jury to his own lawyer judges his dispassionate attitude. He explains that one of the hardest things while being imprisoned in the beginning was that he still had the thoughts of a free man. So during his difficult times he has a metaphor or it being like staying in a tree trunk. Eventually he would look forward to seeing birds fly by, or just the changes in the clouds. That’s what he believes in, which is what his mother always told him, that nothing is too hard because you can always get used to it. Through Meursault, Camus shows the treatment of someone with no ethic, no ideology and an absent minded attitude.

Main Point #1

Another way Eco's novel can be interpreted is as a parable of modern life. The vehement struggle between church and state mirrors much of recent Italian history with its "debates over the role of the left and the accompanying explosion of terrorist violence,

Umberto Eco, has an interesting almost bizarre way of wrapping ideas around in his work. Between his many pieces, from his most famous piece “The Name of the Rose” the struggle between a separation of church and state is apparent. A murder mystery, trying to find answers in a monastery leads to an unexpected ending and lots of death. Eco draws in the reader through the various subplots in the story, creating an ongoing theme of theology, history, and philosophy.

The author Umberto Eco exhibits the molds to live life.The other author Camus in The Stranger, exemplifies one of the extremes that one can live if following the existentialist ideology. Life can have a purpose if you find it for yourself, however this goal in life has to be created and formed by your own actions. Through the actions and phrases of others we can be influenced to believe we are choosing our own destiny instead of what we decide.

Main Point #2

Trying to find answers to life’s conundrums early on can impact your life negatively. Psychologically our brains can be impacted by different forms of stimuli even from an early age.

Evidence #2

Oliker showcases the different stories of kids feeling the effects of treatment from adults, in their families or even friends which lead to lives full of isolation and the outsider mentality. For example “The child who is rejected by a parent because the emotional nature of the child, as it resonates to that parent, echoes the same emotional nature that the parent had rejected in themselves.”

Not belonging to a certain, coveted group of society is hard, particularly on young kids. The most damage emotionally or psychologically a child can suffer often can come from their own family dynamics. Singled out for being different maybe physically or in a certain pattern of behavior can alienate young kids, making them feel like outsiders their whole lives. Oliker stresses the importance of maternal relationships early on, which influence the feelings of separation from the family, leading the kid to later on feel left out of society as a whole.

Following this I want to bring up certain parts of an in-depth interview with Umberto Eco. This interview will showcase specific aspects which will relate and support my thesis.

“I had lived under a dictatorship without knowing it, and it was only as that dictatorship was being overthrown that I discovered there was something else in the world.”

This interview reveals a lot about what made Umberto Eco the man he is, and specifically how his childhood shaped his various ideas and opinions. From a young age he lived a life surrounded by imminent danger, during the time of the first nuclear bomb, and during the time of concentration camps. He says, he was taught to value the idea of “heroism”, and that it might be why he considers himself a pacifist now. Hidden, a dictatorship he wasn’t aware of was happening around him, then brought to light later influencing his support for love rather than the rhetoric of life.

Psychology has a lot to do with the way that people are affected throughout their lives, controlling the paths they deem necessary to choose or not to pursue.

Counter Argument

There may be truth in the claim that people without purpose in life don't have any reason to live for. Without answers in life, no order can occur in your journey.

Life can turn tormentful when searching for explanations that just aren’t there for any of us. Whenever we look for an explanation to any of our problems we hide the answers deeper and deeper within ourselves, because we don’t want to face the harsh realities. Answers may not come right away and we may not even get it ever in life, but if we fixate on trying to find a response our entire life becomes about that one specific problem.

Instead, we may search for some explanations but not become obsessed with something that the universe has no control over, or even us sometimes. Life can get quickly out of our control, but what you may consider is how much freedom we are given. The universe doesn’t have a set path for each and every one of us, because we are in charge of where we desire to go.

However, having no high expectations in life frees individuals to take their own paths without being guided towards what others may want for them to do.The harsh reality of our existence is simply put by Umberto Eco, we just need to live our lives without having to look for clarification or an order from someone, much less the universe. Clearly, we may be influenced by what others say or the choices they may make for us, and how that affects us.

A life without any questions would be meaningless, but forcibly wanting answers is not a life lived with worth.


To live life completely, follow your own goals for happiness, not what others dictate upon you. Life can become strenuous when searching for a higher purpose, instead of following your innate path.Along the way you may face various obstacles that may make you look for answers that you can’t know at the time. By living a life with your very own purpose you create a beautiful journey without having to think about what answers you may be looking for.

Links to Evidence

(Albert Camus, "The Stranger”)

"Overview of Umberto Eco." DISCovering Authors, Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

Oliker, Ditta M. “On Being the Outsider.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 9 Nov. 2012, Accessed 18 Apr. 2017

Wachtel, Eleanor. "Umberto Eco interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel." Queen's Quarterly, vol. 105, no. 2, 1998, pp. 204-14. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

Created By
Cynthia Diaz


Created with images by jorisamonen - "tree nature sky" • Abode of Chaos - "Umberto Eco, painted portrait _DDC2719" • Pezibear - "flowers pink cloves" • tpsdave - "hudson bay canada sea" • Hans - "rose pink rose flower" • skeeze - "sun in the hand fingers sunset" • hahayoyoo - "Peaceful life.." • Hans Engel - "end."

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