How does the given quote relate to existentialism and reflect Meursault's beliefs, actions, or words in The Stranger?

“We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing
situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really
determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and
the misguided” (Albert Einstein, 1934).

Expert Answers

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Without seeing the quotes on the worksheet, I can't help you with your responses. The main tenants of existentialism are that there is no God and no transcendent truth or values, that life is what one makes it, and that "existence precedes essence." It is a philosophy most associated with French thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a contemporary of Camus. However, it should be noted that Camus, even though he was frequently grouped with them, did not consider himself an existentialist. He had an absurdist philosophy, and it would be worth looking at his famous essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" for a fuller explanation.

In Camus's 1942 novel, The Stranger (or The Outsider), the protagonist Meursault is seen by many as an expression of Camus's philosophy. In relation to the Einstein quotation, I don't think Meursault is one of those "handful who are really determined to do something." One of his distinguishing features as a character is his passiveness. He doesn't seem all that interested in the world around him or what happens, whether it's the death of his mother or the killing of an Arab, which leads to his arrest and execution. If anything, he can be grouped with Einstein's "lukewarm and the misguided." Meursault doesn't feel strongly about anything, and he has no guiding principles other than what he feels like doing at the time. He is certainly not contributing to society or, in any meaningful way, trying to improve it. If anything, he's doing the opposite.

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