| Quote #16
The reporters […] all had the same indifferent and somewhat snide look on their faces. One of them, however, much younger than the others, wearing gray flannels and a blue tie, had left his pen lying in front of him and was looking at me […] examining me closely without betraying any definable emotion. And I had the odd impression of being watched by myself. (2.3.7)
The courtroom spectators represent society, and are there to judge Meursault, the detached, nonconforming outsider. Ironically, however, the spectators are a rather detached group themselves. Even more ironically, Meursault identifies with one of them, signifying that he is also beginning to judge himself using society’s rubric.
| Quote #17
For the first time in years, I had this stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me. (2.3.14)
Meursault’s first tears! If he doesn’t care about society, why does he cry? Perhaps he has begun to assimilate their values: his tears aren’t because they hate him; they are because he hates himself.
| Quote #18
[The caretaker] answered the questions put to him. He said I hadn’t wanted to see Maman, that I had smoked and slept some, and that I had had some coffee. It was then I felt a stirring go through the room and for the first time I realized that I was guilty. (2.3.15)
Meursault begins to assimilate society’s judgments of him.