| Quote #13
I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn't see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn't unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered. (1.5.3)
Meursault is so dispassionate here that he can’t identify much of a difference between "unhappy" and "happy." He’s neither; he’s just "content," middle of the road.
| Quote #14
We [Raymond and Meursault] stared at each other without blinking, and everything came to a stop there between the sea, the sand, and the sun, and the double silence of the flute and the water. It was then that I realized that you could either shoot or not shoot. (1.6.18)
Even if there is no meaning to life, every person faces a choice in every situation. (No fate and no controlling deity = radical personal freedom.) At this point in the novel, however, Meursault’s sense of detachment prevents his thinking or acting rationally. So while he recognizes that choice exists, he isn’t yet able to commit to making one. (Think of it as a half-way point in his evolution.)
| Quote #15
The heat was so intense that it was just as bad standing still in the blinding stream falling from the sky. To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing. A minute later I turned back toward the beach and started walking.
The description of the heat accompanies Meursault’s rising annoyance perfectly, foreshadows the impending conflict exactly, and illustrates just how irrational his forthcoming actions will be.