"The Stranger" - Meursault's Trial

1018 Words5 Pages
After only a few days of trial, the jury in The Stranger declares that the main character, Meursault, is to be executed by guillotine in the town square. The trial and its verdict are one of the important parts of the novel, as Albert Camus uses them as a metaphor to summarize the two main tenets of absurdism. Camus uses the trial and persecution of Meursault to express his belief that the justice system is flawed because of his absurdist ideals that truth does not exist, and human life is precious. In order to reform the justice system, Albert Camus believes that capital punishment needs to be abolished. The trial portrays the absurdist ideal that absolute truth does not exist. This ideal destroys the very purpose of the trial, which seeks to place a rational explanation on Meursault’s senseless killing of the Arab. However, because there is no rational explanation for Meursault’s murder, the defense and prosecution merely end up constructing their own explanations. They each declare their statements to be the truth, but are all based on false assumptions. The prosecution itself is viewed as absurd. The prosecutor tries to persuade the jury that Meursault has no feelings or morals by asking Perez if “he had at least seen [Meursault] cry” (91). The prosecutor then continues to turn the crowd against Meursault when he asks him about his “liaison” with Marie right after his mother’s death. Though Meursault’s relationship with Marie and his lack of emotions at his mother’s funeral may seem unrelated to his murder, the prosecutor still manages to convince the crowd that they are connected to one another. The jury ends up convicting Meursault not because he killed a man, but because he didn't show the proper emotions after his mother ... ... middle of paper ... ...ent, they end up ignoring the truth. Death should not be a penalty because truth is nonexistent. Another point Camus makes is that the government “imitates the violence it claims to abhor and in fact premeditates it." Ironically, because human life is so precious, an enforcement of the death penalty could be considered another form of premeditated murder. The trial and conviction of Meursault represents the main ideals of absurdism, that truth does not exist, and life is precious. The jury’s attempt to place a proper verdict on Meursault is compared to mankind’s futile attempt to find order in an irrational universe. Because there is no real truth in the trial, the verdict was unfair and illogical. Camus uses his beliefs of truth not existing and life being precious to point out the absurdity of the judicial system, and suggest the abolishment of the death penalty.
Open Document