Essay, Research Paper
Meursault?s court-appointed lawyer informs him that the investigators checking into Meursault’s private life have learned that Meursault was “insensitive” at Madame Meursault?s funeral. Meursault explains that he probably did love his mother, but it didn’t matter. The lawyer is clearly uncomfortable with Meursault’s response. During the course of the eleven-month investigation that ensues, the magistrate takes to calling Meursault “Monsieur Antichrist” with an almost cordial air. Meursault’s desire to go swimming, to smoke cigarettes, and to have sex torments him in jail. Meursault’s trial finally begins the following summer. Meursault is surprised to find the courtroom packed with people. The press has given his case a great deal of publicity because the summer is a slow season for news.
The judge asks Meursault why he put his mother in a home. Meursault explains that he didn’t have enough money to care for her. The director of the home confirms that Madame Meursault complained about Meursault’s decision to put her in the home. Celeste testifies that Meursault was his friend. He thinks it was just bad luck that led to Meursault’s killing of the Arab. The prosecutor states that it can’t just be chance that Meursault wrote the letter to Raymond’s mistress, testified on Raymond’s behalf at the police station, and went to the beach the day of the crime. In his closing argument, the prosecutor cites Meursault?s obvious intelligence and his lack of remorse as evidence of premeditated murder. Therefore, he calls for the death penalty.
Meursault denies that he intended to kill the Arab when he went back to the beach. Meursault is found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to death by guillotine. After his trial, Meursault only cares about escaping the “machinery of justice.” The newspapers characterize the situation of a condemned man in terms of a “debt owed to society.” When he considers his appeal, Meursault always assumes the worst first. Only after considering that everyone dies eventually does he allow himself to consider the possibility of a pardon. The chaplain asks Meursault why he has refused to see him. Meursault states again that he does not believe in God. When the chaplain states that his attitude is the result of “extreme despair,” Meursault replies that he is afraid, not desperate. The chaplain insists that all the condemned men he has known have eventually turned to God for comfort. Meursault becomes increasingly irritated by the chaplain’s insistence that he spend the rest of his short life on God. In the course of his outburst, Meursault grips the chaplain. Meursault has finally shed any spark of hope. His only hope is that there will be a crowd of angry spectators at his execution so that he will feel less alone.