Existentialism is a concept that is often explored in works of literature as a way of displaying a characterâ€™s interaction with society. One underlying idea of this concept is that one must accept the risks and responsibilities associated with the choices that he or she makes. Once a decision is made, there is no going back. Existentialism tries to illustrate oneâ€™s â€œdesire to make rational decisions despite existing in an apparently irrational universeâ€ (Wyatt 1). In the existentialist point of view, many things are absurd or irrational without explanation. Often, one feels a â€œsuffocating sense of being enclosed by events which are irrational or absurd but also inexorableâ€ (Bigelow 175). In The Stranger, Albert Camus uses Mersault and his experiences to convey the philosophy that man is full of anxiety and despair with no meaning in his life except for simple existence. The concept of existentialism is reflected through Mersaultâ€™s experiences with his motherâ€™s death, his relationship with Marie, his murder of the Arab, and his own trial and execution.
Camus uses the death of Mersaultâ€™s mother to convey his existentialistic philosophy. When his mother dies, Mersault receives a telegram that notifies him of her death. However, he seems more concerned about the time of death, and not the fact that he has just lost a loved one. .
In fact, he says, â€œMaman died today. Or maybe yesterday, I donâ€™t knowâ€ (3). Mersault also shocks the caretaker when he declines to see his motherâ€™s corpse, since a son would normally want to say a proper goodbye to his mother. This shows that Mersault feels no reason to mourn .
for his motherâ€™s death. It also conveys the existentialist idea that reason is powerless to the idea with the depths of human life. Furthermore, Mersault shows no compassion at his motherâ€™s funeral either.