Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 150

Clarice Lispector read her existentialists closely. One can pick up veiled allusions to novels by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus in The Apple in the Dark. The character of Martim contains elements of both Meursault in Camus’s The Stranger (1942) and Roquentin in Sartre’s Nausea (1938). Though unaware of...

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Clarice Lispector read her existentialists closely. One can pick up veiled allusions to novels by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus in The Apple in the Dark. The character of Martim contains elements of both Meursault in Camus’s The Stranger (1942) and Roquentin in Sartre’s Nausea (1938). Though unaware of the existentialist’s dictum, “Existence precedes Essence,” the protagonist has, in fact, set out in search of his own essence. What Martim fails to realize, and what will ultimately bring him up short in his quest for a new Eden, is that he has deluded himself from the beginning. It is almost as if he is telling the reader that his crime was necessary as a means of escaping from a banal and deadening existence into a chance for true, human essence. His error lies in thinking that the initial act will not color subsequent events; indeed, it will determine them.

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