The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyaphus

Essay by nicole1325College, Undergraduate May 2004

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Many wise men have posed the question, "Why is it that people do not like to be alone?" Well, the answer to that question lies in the words of two exceptional writers: Albert Camus, and Ernest Hemingway. In Hemingway's, The Sun also Rises, and in Camus', The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, these authors explore solitude, and the impact it has on people's lives and on happiness in general. It is suggested in all three of these works that happiness is most present in those few moments when people are alone with themselves.

Solitude, however, is not the only link in the chain of happiness running through these three works. The only other thing, that makes Sisyphus, Jake Barnes and Monsieur Meursault happy is the very world they live in. All three value nature and pure things more than anything else in life. To find real happiness they look toward this, not the manufactured satisfaction most look towards.

In Hemingway's The Sun also Rises, Jake Barnes is a man who seeks happiness in all the wrong places. He is hopelessly in love with Brett Ashley, a scandalous woman who will never fall for Jake because she has given up on true love. Jake doesn't see this because he is too lost in his love for her. He never feels happiness when he is with her, because even though she says she loves him, she will never see him as anything but Jake Barnes.

The only time in the novel that Jake is truly happy is when he is alone, and when he is fishing with Bill. Knowing this, one is forced to ask, why, when Brett is the only love in his life, is he happier alone than he is with her? The answer is simple. It is...