What is the role of chance and agency in The Stranger?

Expert Answers
kimfuji eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Camus's character Meursault in "The Stranger" has a free will. Because of his free will he always has a choice. His choice is what makes him free.

Before he became calm and realized his free will, he fought against reality. It seemed like everything happened against him, but it was really the way he looked at it, not what was actually happening. He expected things to always go smoothly which is why he was so upset when they didn't run smoothly. It was his own mind that caused the problem. Everyday reality has no inherent meaning, according to Camus.

After Meursault's "sort of" enlightenment, he does not try to explain his circumstances with theories or religion.He doesn't worry although he is aware of his hunger or body temperature or medical condition.

On the other hand, the magistrate is very upset. He is angry and tored. He believes in God and tries to find a way out of his situation through his mind, his beliefs and rationalisations.

Meursault is Camus's existential man.

Existentialism is beyond chance or agency, in that, his freedom or piece of mind is not predetermined by a God nor is it predicted by fate.  His life is blown around like a leaf as in chance however by facing that truth, the truth of absurdity, he can be free. (It is his attitude that makes him free; his ability to choose his own mindset.)