by Albert Camus
The Stranger Society and Class 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.
Then he said, very quickly and with an embarrassed look, that he realized that some people in the neighborhood thought badly of me for having sent Maman to the home, but he knew me and he knew I loved her very much. I still don’t know why, but I said that until then I hadn’t realized that people thought badly of me for doing it, but that the home had seemed like the natural thing since I didn’t have enough money to have Maman cared for. (1.5.9)
Old Salamano’s apologetic comment is the first instance of society’s negative opinion of Meursault of which he is directly made aware.
The investigators had learned that I had "shown insensitivity" the day of Maman’s funeral… He [the lawyer] asked if I had felt any sadness that day. […] I answered that I had pretty much lost the habit of analyzing myself and that it was hard for me to tell him what he wanted to know. I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything. At one time or another all normal people have wished their loved ones were dead. Here the lawyer interrupted me and he seemed very upset. He made me promise I wouldn’t say that at my hearing or in front of the examining magistrate. (2.1.4)
Characteristically, Meursault’s honest answer betrays just how detached and apathetic he seems toward certain affairs or concepts. He refuses to adopt the perception that is approved by society; he refuses to lie to save himself.
He [the attorney] didn’t understand me, and he was sort of holding it against me. I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else. But really there wasn’t much point, and I gave up the idea out of laziness. (2.1.6)
Ironically, Meursault truly believes that he is as much of a constituent of society as any other person. He is unaware of his nonconformity.