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The reason or reasons for which Meursault accepts his death at the conclusion of ‘The Stranger’ are many and they are complex. To argue that he accepted his death for the truth suggests that he saw some benefit to the world by staying true to himself. As a textbook example of an existentialist, however, Meursault does not believe that any of his actions, regardless of the moral foundations they are based upon, will have any real effect on the world. Throughout the novel, Meursault exhibits brutal honesty, controversial indifference to life events, and a level of amorality that prevents him from distinguishing good actions from bad. The development of Meursault’s character throughout the novel is relatively stagnant until the novel’s outset. What is most notable about Meursault throughout the entirety of the novel is his refusal to succumb to society’s moral standards. After living a life with every moment lacking meaning or sentimentality, it is only when Meursault is faced with his impending beheading that he finally finds peace and can attribute a purpose to his life.

Meursault’s commitment to brutal honesty is the cause of his eventual demise. He is emotionally detached from all relationships and events in his life. He does not understand the need to attribute sentimental value to life events, such as the death of a family member or getting married. Meursault stays true to himself and refuses to hide his lack of feeling throughout the novel. Most notably, Meursault does not show any signs of grief when attending his mother’s funeral. When at trial, Meursault is labeled an outsider and even a monster for his lack of emotion. He is scolded more for challenging society’s moral standards than he is for murdering the Arab. His lack of a reaction to his mother’s death is more damaging to his reputation than his taking the life of another person. Perhaps Meursault’s lack of emotion during significant life events is due to his awareness of his eventual fate, an inevitable and unavoidable death regardless of how he chooses to live his life.

Meursault’s amorality is central to understanding his actions. He is unable to distinguish between actions which are good and those which are bad. He does things because he is able to and he acts because he sees no reason not to. Meursault writes a tormenting letter to Raymond’s wife with complete indifference and disregard for the consequences or the emotions of others. Meursault exhibited no grief on the day of his mother’s funeral and spent the day following the funeral with a former colleague, Marie Cardona. They go on a date consisting of swimming and a movie. Marie proposed marriage to Meursault later in their relationship, to which he responded that he would marry her if that is what she wanted. Meursault admits to Marie that he probably does not love her, and that marriage to him does not have to be something serious, bound together by pure love. Meursault’s actions at the climax of the novel, his killing of the Arab, also lack any real explanation. During the trial, Meursault says he shot the Arab because of the sun, “C’était á cause du soleil”. This proclamation causes the courtroom to erupt into laughter, further ostracising Meursault. He shows absolutely no remorse for his murder of the Arab.

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Meursault had the opportunity when at trial to lie and save himself from death, but he refused to do so. He decided to accept death before acknowledging that the murder was wrong. Meursault also had hopes of filing a successful legal appeal that would lead to his release from prison and his acquittal. He decided against this as these hopes were only false hopes, in that being freed from his impending death would only serve to prolong the inevitable. Meursault, throughout and until the end of the novel, refused to play the game that society so wished he would. He would not succumb to the moral standards of society and contradict his stern beliefs. Meursault decided to pursue the harsh truths of the world that society so often refuses to face. To many in the society portrayed in ‘The Stranger’, the most foreign stance held by Meursault is that of his atheism. His refusal to turn to God and seek forgiveness in his hour of need served only to set him further apart from the social norms. Meursault constantly refused the company of the chaplain. When the chaplain disobeyed these wishes and entered Meursault’s cell, Meursault declared that he did not want to waste what little time he had left with the illusions of the chaplain. Although Meursault and the chaplain shared the belief that death was an inevitability, Meursault refused to convert. He accepted his death and stayed true to his absurdist beliefs. Meursault finally exhibits extreme emotion at the end of the novel when he lashes out against the chaplain. This is a pivotal moment in the final stages of Meursault’s development as a character.

The outset of the novel is a culmination of Meursault’s absurd actions and also inactions. Upon fully accepting his death and being forced to face the consequences of his absurd behavior, Meursault comes to the realization that the universe has no grand meaning or purpose. In these moments, he finds peace with himself and with the universe. It is only then that Meursault finally discovers that the purpose of his life was to behave absurdly and with a blatant disregard for the belief systems so valued by society.

As Camus stated, Meursault does not exhibit any heroism in accepting his death. Meursault’s actions finally catch up with him at the outset of the novel, and it is only then that he puts his life into perspective and attributes some form of meaning and purpose to it. Whether Meursault accepted his death as the truth or not is a difficult question. In a way, it is the truth that caused Meursault to stand by his absurd convictions. Meursault discovers peace and content with his life and the universe by the time he is faced with death. As a result, there is no reason for Meursault to disguise his true self. A life lived in truth is a life lived without illusions. This is the only life that Meursault could live. He would not and did not lie to himself. Meursault is content in dying as he realizes that he will never again be placed in a position where he will be expected to conform to, what he would regard as, unrealistic, unnecessary, and counter-productive societal norms and expectations.

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