Do you believe that Meursault is guilty of murder? If not, is he completely innocent of any crime, or is he guilty of something else? If the latter, what? Do you believe he intended to kill the Arab?
Meursault is not innocent. He is guilty of murder because he killed the Arab, but this is not the only crime he is guilty of. Though he killed the Arab, Meursault is not a murderer because we see him in the earlier stages of the story stopping Raymond from killing the Arab with a gun. He is seen to have no feeling of regret even after his mother’s death. He is sentenced to death, and he does not see it as a big deal because he argues that everyone will have to die eventually.
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He is accused of senseless killing, and the courtroom wants him to explain the reason behind the unmotivated killing. The outcome of the trial is more of moral condemnation rather than a punishment for murder. Meursault does not appear to see as if he did something bad by killing the Arab. If fact, when he is prompted to explain the killing, he says that it was because of the sun. He is honest and readily accepts the responsibility for the murder because he sees nothing wrong with his actions.
The sun was hot on his head, and the sweat was entering his eyes. When he went close to the Arab, the Arab lifted the knife, which reflected in Meursault’s eyes so that he could not see properly (Camus, 1946). Rationally looking at the cause of the murder Meursault is not guilty, and he did what he had to do. That is why he has no regrets and shows no emotional concern. On the other hand, he is guilty of taking someone’s life, and he admits it but does not give a considerable reason. I do not think he intended to kill the Arab because there was not a history of the two having grudges or having conflicting interests. It was just a matter of a thoughtless reaction (Guignon, 2004).
The character Meursault
We do not know much about this character. Even his second name is not available, and he is only referred by his first throughout the book. It is hard to fully understand Meursault’s personality and the behaviors he portrays. As the story starts, he lived in Paris but is now living in Algiers. He moves his belongings to one-bedroom, and they fit they’re showing that he had very little possession. It indicates that he had no greed for material possessions.
Meursault is a secretive reserved man. We see him refusing to show up for lunch when invited to Celeste’s after the funeral. He prefers to be alone away from the laity. This trait is also evident when Meursault is offered a job in Paris but turns down the offer without a proper explanation. His aloof personality trait is evident in the trial when he feels like speaking but then fails to do so after reflecting on the matter (Guignon, 2004).
It shows that he has a very reticent character. When he is asked whether Raymond is his friend, he simply replies yes, and this negatively affects the verdict.
Meursault is depicted as very bright that the prosecutor discards the deliberation Mersault did not realize what he was up to when he killed the Arab. The prosecutor even states that Meursault is literate and was well aware of what he was doing as well as the consequences. He is not a numb man but has feelings. Meursault’s commitment to being truthful and honest is a matter of feelings and an undeterred passion.
Meursault is a hardworking employee. He admits this himself in the story and tells the reader that he worked hard all week at the office. When there appears a chance for promotion, Meursault is chosen to go to Paris.
It clearly shows that his employer had noticed the hard-working man. He however turns the offer down because he does not have ambition. He feels life is the same. He views ambitions as unimportant because they did not work for him when he was in school and ambitious. He had to give up his education, and this served as a great disappointment that sunk him into an aloof lifestyle (Guignon, 2004).
Meursault is well-liked. He is very disturbed at the trial. Old Salamano is also a friend, and he tries to speak in favor of Meursault at the court. Another friend of Meursault is Emmanuel. The considerable nature of Meursault is seen when he offers to explain to Emmanuel the plot at the cinema.
Meursault is only living for the present moment, and he is only concerned with the present moment. It is because he knows that this is the only moment he has control over. He does not ride in vague assurances of a better life to come, and for this reason, he is authentic. It also shows that he is in good faith because he is being realistic and refuses to ride on the backs of imaginary beings and situations. He realizes that he cannot change his past, and the future remains to be a total stranger.
He declines to accept a promotion to Paris because he lost his ambitions when he was forced to abort his studies. To some extent, Meursault is not authentic because he smokes while he watches over his mother’s coffin and has sex with a woman he is not morally committed to. He does things that he knows that others would not do. It would place him under bad faith like religion.
Camus, Albert. (1946) The Stranger. The Colonial Press INC.
Guignon, Charles. (2004). On Being Authentic Thinking in Action. Rout ledge. New York: John Benjamins Publishers.