The Stranger – II Society has always been known to judge people based on their age, sex, appearance, culture and social status. In the second part of the novel “The Stranger” the narrative stile changes and we as the reader no longer see the story developing in front of us, but we read a case, a trial that already happened. Albert Camus is guiding us thru the trial and the state of the defendant with an objective narrative stile, allowing us to make out own opinions about Meursault’s crime and the outcome of his actions. Second part of the novel begins with the interrogation, (after killing the Arab for no reason) and illustrates Meursault’s unique personality of not caring about the society’s customs and practices,” I didn’t take him to seriously.” (63) During this process, Meursault is presented as a human with no soul, not reacting as expected by the magistrate when he waves the crucifix at him, and indifferent to prison.
Once again, like at his mother’s funeral, Meursault focuses on the practical details of his new life, rather than on its emotional elements. His imprisonment does not incite any guilt or regret whatsoever and even worst he doesn’t think about the implication of his crime, but instead he selfishly goes back on analyzing his physical state and the case trial from the outside with no emotional implication. He notes that getting an attorney appointed by the court is “very convenient”, he also enjoys the examining magistrate’s friendly attitude and does no treat him as an adversary, and he focuses on his physical well being, which weighs most heavily on his mind. During these first days he realizes that the only things that he is missing are the ocean, cigarettes, woman and sex, and he finally realizes the purpose of the prison- to take away someone’s freedom. But instead of focusing on regaining that freedom, Meursault comes to realize that he could get used to any living situation, even living in a trunk. He realizes that he is not thinking on Marie in particularly, but any woman, showing a non-emotional character about their relation.
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He begins to gain insight into the irrational universe around him and realizing that “there was no way out” and the only solution was to resolve the main problem about being in prison – killing time. As the time goes and the trial takes is course, Meursault analyses everything from the outside, watches quietly how the prosecutor and his lawyer manufacture his personality, and he realizes that his failure to interpret or find meaning in his own life has left him vulnerable to the society, which will judge him according to its expectations and values. Using Meursault lack of “normal” emotion the prosecutor has no trouble imposing enough meaning to convince the jury that Meursault deserves a death sentence. Meursault’s own lawyer not only imposes yet another manufactured interpretation of Meursault’s life, but even goes so far as to deliver this interpretation in the first person, stealing Meursault’s own point of view when making the argument. But after all the effort, Meursault is being held accountable for his crime. Only now, toward the end of the trial, Meursault suddenly realize that the prosecutor has successfully manufactured an interpretation of Meursault’s life, and that, in the jury’s eyes, he likely appears guilty.
His only reaction is nor remorse or guilt, but that the sun blind him, and as he hears positive, negative, and neutral interpretations of his character, he recognizes that all the witnesses discuss the same man, Meursault, but they offer differing interpretations of his character. In each testimony, meaning is constructed exclusively by the witness-Meursault has nothing to do with it. Finally while waiting for his execution, Meursault takes the final step in the development of his “dead” consciousness. He now realized that death is inevitable and he begins to see his life as having a past, present and future. He understands that there is no difference between dying soon by execution and dying old from natural causes. Drops of emotions appear in his character- hope and frustration.
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First thinking of a possible twenty years more of life he hopes that he could change the death sentence, but when he finally realizes that there was no way back, frustration takes place. After expressing his rage to the chaplain, a feeling of peace and acceptance surrounds him. Now he is capable of leaving a free life, waiting in peace for hid death. The serenity with which he approves death constitutes Meursault’s triumph over society.
The death sentence does not impress him, or install any feelings in his soul. In the end his only preoccupation about the death is in having “large crowd of spectators the day of my execution.” Expressing remorse over his crime would implicitly acknowledge the murder as wrong, and Meursault’s punishment as justified. However, Meursault’s lack of distress about his death implies that his trial and conviction were pointless. Moreover, Meursault accepts that his views make him an enemy and stranger to society and shows he is content being an outsider.
In the end Meursault’s trial for his murder has no legal basis. Maybe he did act as self defense at seeing the Arabs knife, and the fact that he did not run, and instead confessed his crime, made him believe that he was innocent. He was trial for his morality, for his actions before the murder and judged for his conduct in the society and the lack of normal emotions after the death of his mother. Meursault is a stranger to us, to the society, to himself, to life, concerned only with his physical senses, never emotional or thinking about others, but because his ignorance to justice and not taking his actions seriously he is convicted in court for murder. Works Cited Camus, Albert. The Stranger.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
... calling societies bluff. Even if a criminal is caught for a lesser crime than murder and imprisoned, the prison life could ... violent criminals. Barbarity: Under the constitutional Eighth Amendment, the death penalty used to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Those ... , James R. P. , "Capital Punishment: Arguments for Life and Death", Reprint from the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, Vol.28 ...