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The meaning of the suffering of Meursault from the angle of existentialist crisis

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Existentialism tends to focus on the question of human existence — the feeling that there is no purpose, indeed nothing, at the core of existence. The term itself suggests one major theme: the stress on concrete individual existence and, consequently, on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice. Sartre did not believe in God, so there was no place for the essence of humanity to be before human existence. For Existentialists like Sartre, the absence of God has a much larger significance than the metaphysics of creation. Without God there is no purpose, no value, and no meaning in the world. Existentialism posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to deities or authorities creating it for them. Meursault, the main character and narrator of The Outsider, lives existentially and knows that his life will terminate one day. To Meursault, Life is all a person possesses, and there is no intrinsic meaning in life:
“‘Well then I’ll die.’ Sooner than other people, obviously. But everybody knows that life isn’t worth living.”
Existentialist Nietzsche proclaims "God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!” The belief in the absence of a transcendent force is the central existentialist crisis. When the magistrate waves a crucifix at Meursault and asks if he believes in God. Meursault says no. The magistrate states that his own life would be meaningless if he doubted the existence of God, and concludes that Meursault has an irrevocably hardened soul. Meursault reasserts his denial of God’s existence when the chaplain visits him: “I didn’t believe in God.” As Meursault does not believe in God, he cannot find out any meaning in his existence. This atheistic view leads him to live existentia...


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...ists, Meursault has his own values which are incompatible to the values of the world. Values that would be very significant for most people, such as love for someone or suffering at a parent’s death, do not matter to him, at least not on a sentimental level. He simply does not care that his mother is dead, or that Marie loves him:
“She asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so. “
“What did other people’s death or a mother’s love matter to me…”
Finally, it can be asserted that the suffering of Meursault is a result of his disbelief in God. As he does not believe in God, he cannot find out any meaning in his life. Consequently, he is aware of the fact that no matter what choices he makes, the ultimate result is death. To him there is no life after death, so he has neither any fear for punishment nor any hope for reward.


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