The Stranger

Many people often base their opinions on a person by judging his whole life in general and his attitude towards life without caring about who the person really is deep down inside. This unfair reasoning can occur in the courtroom when people are put on trial and the judge and the jury must delve into the life of the accused and determine if he is a hazard to society. Occasionally, the judge and jury are too concerned with the accused’s past that they become too biased and give an unfair conviction and sentencing.In his novel, The Stranger, Albert Camus uses the courtroom as a symbol to represent society that judges the main character, Meursalt, unfairly to illustrate how society forms opinions based on one’s past. Meursalt faces a jury and a tough prosecutor when he is on trial, and they all try to form an opinion on Meursalt based on what he has done before killing the Arab man. The director of the funeral home testifies that Meursalt shows no emotion towards his mother’s death, and that he “hadn’t cried once, and that [Meursalt] had left right after the funeral without paying [his] last respects at her grave.” (89). Society creates an imaginary rule where one must cry and show penitence at a funeral in order to be looked upon as a normal human being. It is not fair that Meursalt is judged for his lack of feelings at the funeral because it is his own choice to show remorse and to express his feelings as he pleases; his lack of feelings do not mean that he is not heartbroken about the loss of his mother.As the trial progresses, the prosecutor makes a statement of all the things that Meursalt did a day after his mother’s death, ““Gentlemen of the jury, the day after his mother’s death, this man was out swimming, starting up a dubious liaison, and going to the movies, a comedy, for laughs. ”” (94). The courtroom portrays Meursalt as an appalling man for enjoying himself the day after his mother’s funeral. The broad statement said by the prosecutor shows that society does not allow one to have any entertaining moments after a time of repentance because it is thought to be disrespectful.A quick rebuttal by Meursalt’s lawyer helps realign the trial so that it is actually focusing on why they are having the trial in the first place by saying, ““Come now, is my client on trial for burying his mother or for killing a man? ” The spectators laughed. ” (96). The trial never focuses on why Meursalt killed the Arab man and no one ever bothers to make any real efforts to discover his motives. This reveals that the courtroom is more interested in the type of person Meursalt is and how he can be a danger to society than the death of the Arab.The courtroom judges Meursalt as a heartless man with the only intention of killing a man because he felt like it, yet neither ever proves the killing of the Arab, not even in their closing speeches. In the two lawyers’ summations, both summarize Meursalt and portray him in either a good or bad light based on his characteristics and his past actions. The prosecutor’s concluding speech depicts Meursalt as a callous man not capable of feelings because of Meursalt’s actions during the trial saying that ““Not once during the preliminary hearings did this man show emotion over his heinous offense.”” (100). Not only does society say it is disrespectful to not show remorse during and after a funeral, but it is also frowned upon to show no emotion at a trial. Meursalt has decided that what he has done, has been done and that there is no point in showing any more regret than he already has, yet society judges Meursalt for his lack of feelings. The prosecutor also goes on to tell Meursalt that he is a human being not capable of feelings proving that he has no place in society.The prosecutor’s concluding speech makes Meursalt think, “He stated that I had no place in a society whose most fundamental rules I ignored and that I could not appeal to the same human heart whose elementary response I knew nothing of. ” (102). Meursalt is proven guilty because he does not conform to the rules of society, yet there are no rules in the government stating that it is wrong to not conform. The court seems to be more concerned with Meursalt’s strange characteristics than his motivation for murdering someone.Not only does the prosecutor leave out specific reasons of why Meursalt kills a man, but Meursalt’s own lawyer leaves it out completely in his closing speech. This reveals that society as a whole is more obsessed with one’s past and is more likely to convict a person based on their past actions without knowing the true motives for why one is in the courtroom in the first place in order to maintain society’s equilibrium. In The Stranger, Camus utilizes the courtroom to symbolize society as a whole to prove that society forms opinions based on one’s past.The court’s attempts to create a rational explanation for Meursalt’s crime shows society’s attempt to find reasonable explanations for all the events in life. The court though, judges Meursalt unjustly because of society’s standards where everyone should show emotions during specific events. In addition, the courtroom is concerned in maintaining society’s balance, and will not allow those who do not conform to walk free. Although it is essential for the courtroom to maintain society’s rules, it is not necessary to allow such rules to interfere when judging a person for their committed crime instead of their past.