| Quote #1
I thought he was criticizing me for something and I started to explain. But he cut me off. "You don’t have to justify yourself, my dear boy. I’ve read your mother’s file. You weren’t able to provide for her properly." (1.1.5)
In the beginning of the novel, Meursault feels compelled to explain away or account for negative judgment.
| Quote #2
Then he offered to bring me a cup of coffee with milk. I like milk in my coffee, so I said yes, and he came back a few minutes later with a tray. I drank the coffee. Then I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated, because I didn’t know if I could do it with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked. (1.1.13)
Although Meursault feels a twinge of self-consciousness here, unsure whether he is doing the right thing, he ultimately excuses it as something meaningless. This can be seen as detachment or remorselessness, depending on the context.
| Quote #3
It was then that I realized they were all sitting across from me, nodding their heads, grouped around the caretaker. (1.1.15)
The strategic opposing placement of Maman’s friends and Meursault betrays Meursault’s foreign status. Already, he is an outsider, a stranger.