Comparative study of Existentialist European Literature

Essay by bignetuserHigh School, 11th gradeA-, April 2004

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"Rooted in the fabric of social life, the novel cannot avoid making some criticism, even if only obliquely."

The Stranger and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich present the criticism of society by using a writing style called existentialism. The Stranger and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich show existentialism in different ways using imagery, conflict, and mood. Existentialism is a 20th century philosophical movement, based on personal responsibility for acts, absence in the judgment of right and wrong, and individual freedom of choice. There will be numerous accounts of existentialist writing, which will have similar thoughts with the main character. These books will use imagery and symbolism to demonstrate existentialism. The Stranger was written during WWII and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was written after WWII during Stalin's rule of the Soviet Union. These books show their mood about life using existentialism.

The Stranger takes place in Algeria in a city called Algiers, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich takes place in a Soviet work camp. These were written in two places far apart and still show criticisms of society.

Existentialism is used in The Stranger by the main character Meursault to show no emotion of the death of his mother. This is likely to show that the event had no affect on Meursault. In The Stranger, the main character Meursault gets a telegram that says his mother died and after reading this his reaction was, "That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday" (p.10). The statement symbolizes the unimportance of the death, and also not wanting to attend the funeral. This statement in the book shows the foretelling of criticisms against Meursault by society in this book. Also in this book it states "The women kept on...