Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Camus' Absurdity 2/4


“I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another and that I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all” (Camus 40).

Meursault’s response to his boss’s job offer echo his statements much later in the book. Here he sees that personal change and progress is meaningless because everyone’s life is essentially equal. There is no value in change if we all end up in the same place. Despite all the minute details, all the great progress, all the experiences I can have in a lifetime, Meursault’s absurdist point of view reduces all the processes of life to nothing. When Marie asks to marry a young Meursault soon after the job offer, he is completely indifferent, but he agrees for her sake. He tends to verbally agree with someone just so he won’t have to do something else. More importantly he doesn't consider the result of any one decision or action. All the people in his life attempt to attach meaning to his meaningless life.

The sun was starting to burn my cheeks, and I could feel drops of sweat gathering in my eyebrows. That sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me, all the veins in it throbbing under the sun. It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward. I knew that it was stupid, that I wouldn’t get the sun off me by stepping forward”(Camus 58-9).
Usually Meursault cannot be pushed around to do things he does not want, but this case is different. It is clear that he does not decide to step forward, rather the sun has power over him and compels him forward. What is peculiar about this chain of events is the absurdity involved. Since Meursault lives and breathes a quiet life of indifference, he could not make a drastic impact on his own life if he tried. Therefore, there needs to be an outside source to enable change. The plot is brilliant because the change is a nosedive into a pool of more absurdity. Has Meursault lost control and will power? Does the fact that Meursault narrates skew my opinion that everything is incidental – due only to some absurd chain of irrational events over which he had no control? I think yes. 


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