by Albert Camus
The Stranger Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Matthew Ward's translation, published by Vintage International published in 1989.
The utter pointlessness of whatever I was doing there seized me by the throat, and all I wanted was to get it over with and get back to my cell and sleep. (2.4.8)
Meursault isn’t able to take his trial seriously. Think back to the scene at the nursing home, when he felt like the elderly residents were "there to judge [him]." For a man who is used to being constantly evaluated against normative behavior (when his behavior is anything but normal) this trial is just another day in the life.
Meanwhile, the sun was getting low outside and it wasn’t as hot anymore. From what street noises I could hear, I sensed the sweetness of evening coming on. There we all were, waiting. And what we were all waiting for really concerned only me. (2.4.9)
It’s almost as if Meursault doesn’t understand why everyone else cares so much. It’s his life—why the big deal? Why are these people waiting around to hear a decision that doesn’t concern them?
The presiding judge told me in a bizarre language that I was to have my head cut off in a public square in the name of the French people. Then it seemed to me that I suddenly knew what was on everybody's fact. It was a look of consideration, I'm sure. The policemen were very gentle with me. The lawyer put his hand on my wrist. I wasn't thinking about anything anymore. But the presiding judge asked me if I had anything to say. I thought about it. I said, "No." (2.4.11)
Society has judged that the crime of a passive, detached atheist is punishable by death. Why doesn’t Meursault have anything to say? Possibly because he realizes response is futile, possibly because he can’t think of anything, and possibly because it’s hot in that courtroom and he’d really like to get back to his prison cell as quickly as possible.