Innocence doesn’t really exist in The Fall. In the world of this novel, everyone is guilty – even Jesus Christ. The narrator’s philosophy consists of declaring your own guilt (in order to avoid judgment) and condemning yourself to a life of imprisonment. In his viewpoint, being imprisoned means you are guilty, and being free means you are innocent. The classic cause and effect has been reversed; we are not thrown in shackles because we are criminals, rather we are judged as criminals because we find ourselves in shackles.
Questions About Innocence
All of The Fall has to do with Jean-Baptiste’s attempts at proving his own innocence. Why is this such a concern for him?
Jean-Baptiste claims that all men will do anything to prove their own innocence, even if it means accusing "the whole human race and heaven itself." Is this true?
Jean-Baptiste claims that by accusing himself "in a certain way," he can preserve his own innocence. Shmoop argues that this "certain way" is his confession and his profession as a judge-penitent. If this is the case…does it work? Does it work in Jean-Baptiste’s eyes, at least? That is, does he think himself innocent?
Chew on This
For Jean-Baptiste, the relationship between innocence/guilt and freedom/imprisonment reflects an inverted cause and effect. In this way, Camus’s philosophy of the absurd manifests itself in The Fall.