The Stranger is considered a classic due to its striking presentation of the idea that life is absurd. In this context, the term "absurd" does not mean comical; instead, it implies that life has no inherent meaning and that events in life often occur for no real reason at all. The universe is at once indifferent and irrational, much like Meursault himself, who feels no emotion at his own mother's funeral and shoots a man dead for no apparent reason other than that the sun was in his eyes.
For those who consider this novel a classic, Meursault is often perceived as an absurdist hero. He takes life for what it is, ascribing no meaning to it and enjoying physical pleasures such as beautiful weather and sex. He does not pretend to be someone he is not, even when his life is at stake in the courtroom. Camus implies that Meursault's ultimate condemnation from the court represents a condemnation from society as a whole because Meursault is so indifferent and unaffected by the things which matter to others, such as morality and meaning.
Camus himself once said, "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." Meursault embodies such a philosophy. For being such an uncompromising expression of the absurdist philosophy, The Stranger continues to challenge, infuriate, and intrigue readers almost a century after its original publication.