by Albert Camus
The Fall Innocence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Justin O'Brien's translation.
You see, it is not enough to accuse yourself in order to clear yourself; otherwise, I’d be as innocent as a lamb. One must accuse oneself in a certain way, which it took me considerable time to perfect. I did not discover it until I fell into the most utterly forlorn state. Until then, the laughter continued to drift my way, without my random efforts succeeding in divesting it of its benevolent, almost tender quality that hurt me (4.27).
Accuse oneself in a certain way…a certain way…what the heck is he talking about? It’s important to see what’s going on here, so check out this line from later in the text: "It is essential to begin by extending the condemnation to all, […] in order to think it out at the start" (6.11). Yep – that’s the "certain way" he’s talking about. If you want more, check out Jean-Baptiste’s character analysis.
Can you imagine in that cell a frequenter of summits and upper decks? What? One could live in those cells and still be innocent? Improbable! Highly improbable! Or else my reasoning would collapse. That innocence should be reduced to living hunchbacked – I refuse to entertain for a second such a hypothesis. Moreover, we cannot assert the innocence of anyone, whereas we can state with certainty the guilt of all. Every man testifies to the crime of all the others – that is my faith and my hope (5.13).
Again, what we’ve got here is the reversal of cause and effect. Man is imprisoned, therefore he is guilty. This is the same argument that Jean-Baptiste put forth in his discussion of "little-ease."
What of it? Well, God’s sole usefulness would be to guarantee innocence, and I am inclined to see religion rather as a huge laundering venture – as it was once but briefly, for exactly three years, and it wasn’t called religion. Since then, soap has been lacking, our faces are dirty, and we wipe one another’s noses. All dunces, all punished, let’s all spit on one another and – hurry! to the little-ease! Each tries to spit first, that’s all. I’ll tell you a big secret, mon cher. Don’t wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day. (5.15)
Remember, Jean-Baptiste’s main argument is that we should all declare ourselves guilty to skip the whole judgment thing. You might as well, this passage suggests, since man isn’t qualified anyway to declare you innocent – only God is. This is an important concept to Camus, and it goes a long way in explaining why he was so opposed to the death penalty.