Watch this short video that perhaps offer a better way to understand "The Absurd"
"The Pale Blue Dot" narrated by Astronomer and astrophysicist, Carl Sagan
Then, for the next 10-15 minutes, journal on the following:
1. Discuss the starter and a few key points:
2. Individual seminar prep
Additional Seminar Questions to choose from for your seminar prep
1. What passage BEST represents Camus’s recommendation for how we handle the Absurd (the imminence of death and meaningless of universe)?
2. What is the significance of the conclusion of the novel? How does it reflect Meursault’s transformation as well as Camus’ philosophy of the Absurd and/or existentialism as a whole? Look specifically at this quote from pages 122-123:
“For the first time in a long time, I thought about Maman. I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life, she had taken a ‘fiance,’ why she had played at beginning again. Even there, in that home where lives were fading out, evening was a kind of wistful respite. So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her. And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really- I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate”
3. Albert Camus outlined three different responses to one’s recognition of the Absurd…one’s understanding that life was meaningless. 1. Suicide. If all life ends in death and there is no inherent meaning in the universe, all we do is for nothing, then why not end it? Camus did NOT advocate this path because death is no more meaningful and it rids us of dignity. 2. Putting faith or hope in something beyond ourselves….perhaps a higher power, perhaps the idea that one day life will be better, or that death could be postponed. 3. Accept that life is meaningless but live with dignity and create your own meaning out of your life. The 3rd was what Camus advocated for in his own writings. Read pages 108-109 from the top of the page on 108 until the line “I would just be caught up in the machinery again” on page 109. Which of the three of these responses to the Absurd does Meursault initially consider and what does he ultimately decide by the end of this passage?
4. Why do you think Camus chose a murder trial and a hanging as the climax of the novel? Think about the relationship between the courtroom, a trial and the concept of the Absurd. You might start by looking at pages 89-90 where the prosecutor examines two witnesses about Meursault's relationship with his mother.
5. What is the significance of the story about the Czech and how does it relate to the concept of the Absurd? (pages 79-80)
6. How does the relationship between the Chaplain and M represent the concept of the Absurd? Also, how does the trial represent the Absurd?
7. What is the significance of the line, "everything is true and nothing is true" (91)? Read page 91 then compare to pages 98-101 (Closing Arguments of the lawyers).
8. Why does Meursault want people to greet him with cries of hate at his execution?
Additional Seminar Questions (Created by you during group seminar prep):
9. Based off of this quote "It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Mamam was buried now, that I’m going back to work, and that really nothing had changed."(24) Even though Meursault says that nothing had changed, did his life significantly change after his mother's death. If it did how so?
10. Is a life without remorse meaningless? If his life is meaningless to himself, is it meaningless to other people? (page 100)
11. Was there a specific event that caused him to change from not caring like in Chapter 5 pg 41 to feeling emption etc.?
12. In the scene where Meursault is at the stadium is the victory meaningless in a meaningless world? (p. 23).
13. Like the prosecutor does with Mersault, do you believe humans try to put meaning into people’s lives too often? Do you ever find yourself trying to make meaning out of inconsequential things? (Camus 100)
14. How does Meursault respond when he realized he was indifferent and his life could stop at any moment? How would you respond? Page 122
15. Why do people try to find inherent meaning or order to the universe? In what ways do people try to do this? (Thinking about the trial and how people are trying to make sense out of why Meursault murdered the Arab).
16. Why does Meursault want a crowd of haters at his execution? - Last Page
17. If he did not kill of his own volition would he still be considered a murderer: “I have retraced for you the course of events which led this man to kill with full knowledge of his actions.”(P100, pp1)
Humanities 11 Teacher at Animas High School