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What's Meursault's morality?

Our analysis of What happened at the beach, Meursaults reactions during the court case and the issues of Morality brought up in his conversation with the priest. Our questions are examined with the light of other academic research.
by

Team Awesome

on 30 November 2011

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Transcript of What's Meursault's morality?

What's Meursault's Morality? Meusault's conver sation with the priest. His trial The prosecutor calls witnesses to the stand to Meursault's moral aberrations and capability of the of the Arab. Despite the more positive testimonies of his friends, he is found guilty. English Showalter, Jr. makes an observation in his book, The Stanger, Humanity And The Absurd, that Meursault uses the same unimportant tone when talks about his Mothers funeral, his engagement to Marie and his sentencing. Most others would be in complete distress, but Meursualt seem
and detached. His inappropriate reaction to circumstances raises the question: The concept of unreliable narration too brought up by Showalter's book is a possible explanation as to why the reader does not see Meursault express remorse.





It is possible that Meursault offers an unrealistic account of his feels during the trial. Perhaps he does feel the appropriate guilt but does not let the other characters, or even the reader know. "I didn't much regret what I'd done.[...] I'd never really been able to regret anything. I was always preoccupied with what had to be done today or tomorrow." - Meusault Meursault's reasoning behind killing the Arab ? Throughout chapter 6 of part 1 the reader sees significant relations to the murder
Meursult's conver Meaursault has "trouble waking up and Marie ha(s) to shout at (him) and shake (him)." As well, he sleeps on the beach and feels tired after lunch. sation with the priest What is revealed about Meursault's conscience and moral philosphy from his outburst with the chaplain? "Meursault reveals an admirable passion for truth, and through his passion, we may be enlightened. Yet it also seems clear that, by itself, a passion for truth is not enough to live by." English Showalter, Jr. continues on... "We must ask ourselves what sort of world is revealed by Meursault's scrupulous adherence to truth. Meursault himself seems to reach a new level of understanding at the very end suggesting that something was amiss theretofore. "After the outburst against the chaplain, Camus does not fill Meursualt's mind with clichés about the horror of ending another man's life; rather, he looks towards [...] the mother's final days. Therefore it can be said that he kills the Arab in a "moral sleep". "There appears to be something like a moral teaching implicit in Meursault's last thoughts... Meursault's lack of ambition: Meursault experiences his life as a series of essentially

and therefore meaningless events. "Meursault's conscience is plagued less by his obvious crime than by his secret failings. During his trial Meaursault says: "I did not intend to kill the Arab" and that "it was because of the sun". Does Meursault feel guilty This quote can be seen as insight towards Meursault's way of thinking and to his standard way of living. ? Robert Champigny wirtes that "Meursalt acts in accordance with a nature that has its own accordance" bored detached. Camus's thoughts on absurdism point out that people's attempts to find order and meaning in life are useless. However he succeeds in making the reader do just that: try to analyze Meursaults reasoning behind he murder when in fact there is no reason. "The presiding judge told me in bizarre Language that I was "Camus forces us to comfront the fact that any rational explanation we try to offer would be based on a consciousness that we create for Meursault, an order that we impose onto his mind." to have my head cut of in public square in the name of the French people." - Meursault 'Unreliable narration is a common technic, which requires the reader to pay heed to the narrator's perception of reality, not reality itself.’ - Showalter In Cardozo Studies In Law And Literature, vol. 3, Ernest Simson suggests that 'Camus invites the reader to take Meursault's part despite his crime and lack of remorse, by depicting him as a victim rather than killer and depersonalizing the real victim.' Simson speculated that lack of guilt is Camus' way to create the illusion of Meursault's innocent therefor creating a sense 'neoromanticism in which criminals are made heroes'. Although Meursault is characterized as "inarticulate" Raymond still asks him to write a letter to his mistress and to testify to the police. To Meursault though, that "world of words" seems feminine and he wants to belong to the "masculine world of deeds". "He screams at the chaplain that he is "sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me"(120;GS 151), Marie points out that Meursault has a "funeral face". When they first go out, the sun hits Meursault "like a slap in the face". By dealing with Raymonds problem on his own, Meaursault may be attempting to prove himself as a man of "deeds". premeditated murder and while that certainty might seem like a small truth to live by, English Showalter, Jr. suggests that "Meursault comes to regard it as more significant than anything else." "I felt a bit lost, with the blue and white sky overhead and these monotonous colours all around me-" pg.21 His catharsis unc onn ec ted This realization of the inevitability of death constitutes Meursault's triumph over society. Meursault no longer looks at his death with fear, or hope. Instead he looks forward to it with peace. He sees it as an inevitable fact from which everyone equally takes part of. If he had regret over his crime, he would be acknowledging that it was wrong and that his sentence would be justified. Sparknotes infers that this lack of concern over his punishment "implies that his trial and conviction were pointless exercises." "I was guilty and I was paying for it and there was nothing more that could be asked of me."pg. 113 Meursault's conversation with the priest on God, life after death, sin, human vs. divine justice and other difficult questions pushes him into catharsis. In his emotional outburst after being told his "heart is blind" he states his certainty. "Nothing, nothing mattered and I knew very well why. He too knew why." It is because death ends life, however the priest believes in salvation, eternal life, sin and repentance. That is where they differ. Meursault makes himself appear to be conscience-less as he is only occupied with "today and tomorrow," not with analyzing the correctness of his actions. "I'd done this and I hadn't done that.[...] So what?" Meursault shouts to the priest. He is fully aware that he has been condemned for his stance on death. He is a stranger to the moral thinking of his society and feels more open to the gentle indifference of the world. Stephen Ohayon, Ph.D. notes that Meursault has been likened to "a hero and a martyr who died because of his absolute respect for the truth." Meursault accepts that his views make him an outsider in his society. In fact sparknotes presents that "his position in relation to society will be affirmed when crowds cheer hatefully at him as he is beheaded." Bibliography
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