In The Stranger Albert Camus develops Meursault as an existential hero, to encourage the idea of being different from normal society. Meursault is a deeply disturbed character that is unable to identify with not only people but also his surroundings. His peculiar attitude towards the world ends up labeling him as a stranger to society. Meursault cannot be defined as a traditional hero, but rather as a tragically absurd one. His outlook on the irrationality of life, the choices he makes throughout the novel and the realization he makes in the end all promote the idea that Meursault is the absurd hero.
Throughout the course of the book, Meursault is developing an existential philosophy, which he is not even aware of until the very end. He is often more interested in trivial details of everyday life instead of seeing the true meaning of events: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: "Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours."" That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday."" (Camus 1) Meursault does not express any remorse upon learning of his mother's death "he simply reports the fact in a straightforward manner, and is more concerned with the time instead of the event. He is already aware of the meaninglessness of human existence, a theme that resounds throughout the novel.
Meursault makes a number of choices in the novel that would be questionable to those of the normal society. He befriends men whom are looked down upon, and he agrees to marry a woman he does not love. He assists Raymond in tormenting his mistress, and later on is prepared to fight off the mistress's brother but ultimately kills him. On top of all this there is the one fact, which seems to affect the outcome of the book and of Meursaults life "he never cried at his mother's funeral. At his mother's funeral, where he is constantly feeling judged, Meursault doesn't shed a tear and this ultimately becomes his downfall and death sentence.