by Albert Camus
The Fall Theme of Innocence
Innocence doesn’t really exist in The Fall. In the world of this novel, everyone is guilty – even Jesus Christ. The narrator’s philosophy consists of declaring your own guilt (in order to avoid judgment) and condemning yourself to a life of imprisonment. In his viewpoint, being imprisoned means you are guilty, and being free means you are innocent. The classic cause and effect has been reversed; we are not thrown in shackles because we are criminals, rather we are judged as criminals because we find ourselves in shackles.
Questions About Innocence
- All of The Fall has to do with Jean-Baptiste’s attempts at proving his own innocence. Why is this such a concern for him?
- Jean-Baptiste claims that all men will do anything to prove their own innocence, even if it means accusing "the whole human race and heaven itself." Is this true?
- Jean-Baptiste claims that by accusing himself "in a certain way," he can preserve his own innocence. Shmoop argues that this "certain way" is his confession and his profession as a judge-penitent. If this is the case…does it work? Does it work in Jean-Baptiste’s eyes, at least? That is, does he think himself innocent?
Chew on This
For Jean-Baptiste, the relationship between innocence/guilt and freedom/imprisonment reflects an inverted cause and effect. In this way, Camus’s philosophy of the absurd manifests itself in The Fall.