Camus is aware that “everything that exalts life at the same time increases its absurdity.”
From the emotional and intellectual awareness of the fact of death in contrast to the potent desire for immortality, Camus derives the truth of absurdity. Neither the deification of the absurd by Jaspers and Kierkegaard, nor Shestov’s indentification of it with God, answers Camus’s immediate need to explain the contradiction between his desire for clarity and unity and the world’s irrationality, disunity, and fragmentation. Camus accepts the truth of the absurd and maintains that he must follow this truth in all its consequences.
Camus stated “The absurd man thus catches sight of a burning and frigid, transparent and limited universe in which nothing is possible but everything is given, and beyond which all is collapse and nothingness. He can then decide to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.”
Meursault is a stranger in a society whose existence depends upon everyone’s concession to its codes and rituals. According to Camus, Meursault is a man “who does not play the game. He is a man poor and naked who is in love with the sun.”
Meursault knows that the absolute religious and social values by which he was judged are conventional and outworn. He is cognizant of all this; yet in full realization of the limitations of society, his final wish is not to withdraw from it but to resubject himself to the tortuous entanglements of day to day living. The absurdity of life, which actually has nothing to do with either society or behavior within society, cannot be denied or eradicated. It is in reality an invitation to a happiness completely rooted in the knowledge that men and women live and they die. There are no other absolute truths. Meursault is dragged through defeat after defeat before he is able to acknowledge the one glaring truth that he chose to ignore…that the infinite value of life lies in the very finiteness of its nature. He rejects the rational definition of men and women that is proffered by the legal system; he rejects suicide as an escape from life’s irrationality; he affirms the value of an individual life; and finally, as a consequence of his failure to accept any philosophic system that seeks to eradicate the finiteness of existence, he recognizes the absurdity of life.
The moment of the clash between the opposed demands of his individual moral code and the social code by which he is judged initiates his gradual awakening to the absurdity of the universe.