Why doesn't Meursault believe in God in The Stranger?

In The Stranger, Meursault does not believe in God because heviews having faith in God as a weakness and does not want accountability. He wants to be in complete control of his life, regardless of the consequences, and he does not want to be restrained by rules, morals, or God himself.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the novel The Stranger, Meursault is a self-proclaimed atheist who insists that he does not believe in God. Throughout the novel, Meursault demonstrates that he believes he is in complete control of his life; he does not want to be restrained by others, rules, emotions, relationships, morals, or God himself. Meursault does not want accountability and chooses not to share or acknowledge his emotions, including regret or guilt.

Consider how Meursault constantly acts according to his own desires, regardless of the consequences. He appears to not even have any emotions most of the time, except anger. He does not cry at his mother’s funeral and has no problem taking a life. Meursault is cold and calculated in how he approaches life. He is indifferent to most meaningful events around him.

In his conversations with the chaplain in his prison cell, consider why Meursault gets upset that the chaplain questions his unbelief. Meursault thinks that the chaplain’s God cannot and will not help him, and death is inevitable. Think about how he gets violently angry at the chaplain when the chaplain offers to pray for Meursault. As Meursault has operated out of his own strength, abilities, and intellect throughout his entire life, he is insulted that the chaplain would suggest that Meursault needs prayer (or that prayer/God would change his situation). Consider how he views faith in God as a weakness. Meursault has a hardened heart and believes that nothing really matters, including people.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial