Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




College of Humanities and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Steven L. Hamelman


Existentialism is a field of philosophy concerned with questions about existence, death, God, and consciousness. It is "a doctrine that concentrates on the existence of the individual, who, being free and responsible, is held to be what he makes himself by the self-development of his essence through acts of the will" (OED Online). Writing by existentialist philosophers "often belongs more to literature than to philosophy" (Bigelow 173). Existentialist characters in literature are autonomous agents who tend to lack religious faith, constantly ask existentialist questions, and struggle with their own existence and relationship to the world around them. Additionally, existentialist characters struggle with the reality of their own mortality. These struggles are apparent in novels with existentialist protagonists. In the novels of Sartre, Camus, and DeLillo, autodiegetic main characters serve as the heroes of their own existentialist crises in order to realistically chronicle the plight of the existentialist.