Book Notes Part 2, Chapter 1 Notes from The Stranger

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The Stranger Part 2, Chapter 1

Meursault is questioned by the police in, what he believes to be, a nonchalant, insignificant case. He scrutinizes the faces and expressions of the policemen who advise him to get an attorney. Meursault does not understand why he needs one, for he sees his case as straightforward and easy. After speaking with the officials, he leaves the room. "On my way out, I was even going to shake his [the policeman's] hand, but just in time, I remembered that I had killed a man" Part 2, Chapter 1, pg. 64.

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The following day, a short, chubby lawyer comes to see Meursault and begins to question him about his background and character. They discuss the day of Maman's funeral and why Meursault showed so little emotion at that time. Meursault explains that he does not know if he wished Maman dead or not, and was simply anxious and tired on the day of her death. He regrets nothing and feels nothing. The defense attorney is irate with Meursault's detached attitude and hopes he will not speak so indifferently in court. Meursault makes no promises about his testimony and future dialogue.

The magistrate pleads with Meursault, telling him that God can forgive anyone and loves everyone. He discusses Meursault's character and withdrawn persona. Meursault replies that he never has anything to say, so he says nothing to everyone. This seems to make sense to the magistrate. They discuss the case, the quarrel, and the beach and the shooting. The one thing that the magistrate cannot understand is why, after the first shot, Meursault shot four more bullets into a dead body on the ground. He thrusts a crucifix at Meursault, begging to hear him state a belief in God, and is even more shocked when Meursault claims he does not harbor such feelings. After more discussion, Meursault complies with the magistrate and claims to believe in a higher power simply to shut him up so that he may be left alone. He seems vindicated, but exhausted. Meursault seems annoyed, but not sorry for what he has done. The magistrate simply wants Meursault to admit guilt, emotion, and repentance - sentiments too foreign to Meursault's character.

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For the next eleven months, Meursault speaks often with the magistrate, yet now with the company of his lawyer and the court reporter. The case is slowly getting ready for trial and Meursault becomes more and more taciturn.

"And I can say that at the end of the eleven months that this investigation lasted, I was almost surprised that I had ever enjoyed anything other than those rare moments when the judge would lead me to the door of his office, slap me on the shoulder, and say to me cordially, 'That's all for today, Monsieur Antichrist.' I would then be handed back over to the police." Part 2, Chapter 1, pg. 71

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