Jonathan T.

Second Place Winner

I disagree with almost every philosophical thought he has, so "The Stranger" has inspired me to live my life in the opposite way of Meursault; Albert Camus wrote the extreme of apathy to make society start to care more about life and its importance.

"The Stranger" by Albert Camus tops my list of favorite novels; its existentialist overtones and stylistic simplicity hold a multitude of life lessons that inspire me to live a life full of fervor and optimism. Camus crafts a variety of emotional characters throughout the book that act as foils to Meursault, the protagonist, who acts relatively indifferently toward everything in his life. The famous first line is: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know" which perfectly sets the tone of Meursault's unchanging narration. During his trial, courtship, the funeral, and various other events, he acts as though he has no opinion on any potential outcomes. After he is sentenced to death for murder, Meursault spends a lot of time in his jail cell, waiting and pondering whether life has any meaning at all and decides that nothing makes a difference. He could have changed every single decision in his life, but it would really not have impacted the world around him or his own beliefs about humanity or mortality, or at least that is what he concludes. I disagree with almost every philosophical thought he has, so "The Stranger" has inspired me to live my life in the opposite way of Meursault; Albert Camus wrote the extreme of apathy to make society start to care more about life and its importance.

Like most high school students, I have spent a whole lot of time wondering about what I should do in the future. How will I leave my mark? How will I combine my passions with my talents? How will I choose ‘the right' college when there are so many incredible institutions out there? What will I do if I change my mind? Nobody will ever have the answers to every question, but I think that I know myself well enough and have used my resources well enough to make the best decisions for myself. I love music, theater, helping others, inspiring people, being positive, and educating people around me, so they can someday be the best version of themselves. I believe that all people are capable of greatness whether they know it or not; sometimes, they just need a push in the right direction. For all of these reasons, I want to be a high school choir teacher. Each and every day will teach me a thousand new things, and I will be able to return the favor by teaching many young people. I will never feel Meursault's apathy because I love every aspect of music as a subject and passion, and I want to improve the lives of every child that I ever have the honor of educating. I work tirelessly and diligently already to have a positive effect on my friends and family, so I know that doing the same for students in the future will come naturally to me. "The Stranger" pushes me to be the best individual I can be while influencing the world around me in a positive way.