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“The Stranger Quote Analysis”


By Erika Venoza

“Have you no hope at all? And do you really live with the thought that when you die, you die, and nothing remains?” (pg. 117)

When Meursault was informed of his punishment for the murder he committed, he spent his days in prison thinking about an appeal. He began to think the worse, as thoughts about the fact that his appeal could be denied went around in his head. Meursault even found himself stating, “Well, so I’m going to die.” He began to think how life was not worth living anyways.

He began to think how everyone was destined to die, whether it was at thirty or at seventy, in either case other men and women would continue living for thousands of years. He states, “Since we’re all going to die, its obvious that when and how don’t matter.”  Meursault soon began to feel hopeless and indifferent about his death sentence. Against Meursault’s wishes, the chaplain visits him in his prison cell and asks him why he has refused to see him. Meursault responds by reminding the chaplain that he does not believe in God’s existence. The chaplain continues by asking if he is acting that way because of despair. Meursault again answers to his question responding that he is not desperate but afraid. As he states that he is afraid, the chaplain suggests that Meursault turn to God, for God can help. He states how he has witnessed how men in Meursault’s position have turned to God.  Meursault states, “I acknowledged that that was their right. It also meant that they must have had the time for it. As for me, I didn’t want anybody’s help, and I just didn’t have the time to interest myself in what didn’t interest me.”  At his constant indifference, the chaplain responds exclaiming, “Have you no hope at all? And do you really live with the thought that when you die, you die, and nothing remains?” Meursault response saying “yes”. The chaplain exclaims that he pities him.  Meursault had given up any chance of living. The chaplain tells Meursault how human justice is nothing but divine justice was everything. The chaplain wanted Meursault to have hope of living and to turn to God for help. He wanted Meursault to have faith that his appeal would be granted and that he seek for God’s forgiveness to get rid of his sins. Meursault however, did not believe in God and he felt he had no chance of living for he had been condemned and declared guilty by human justice. Meursault believed that once he was dead, nothing would remain. People would not remember who he was and they would continue their lives, just like Marie had stopped writing to him and forgot about him. Meursault knew nothing about her, not even if she was dead or alive. Meursault learned to accept death, and he did not fear it. He had also learned to confront punishments even if they were not just.  The chaplain was left with nothing to do for Meursault as he refused to conform to his idea that by turning to God, he could be saved.

“But he cut me off and urged me one last time, drawing himself up to his full height and asking me if I believed in God. I said no. He sat down indignantly. He said it was impossible; all men believe in God, even those who turned their backs on him.” (pg.69)

When Meursault sits with the examining magistrate, he describes how “After a short silence, he stood up and told me that he wanted to help me, that I interested him, and that, with God’s help, he would do something for me.” As they begin to talk, the magistrate pulls out a silver crucifix and shows it to Meursault. He begins to tell him how he believed in God and, “that it was his conviction that no man was so guilty that God would not forgive him, but in order for that to happen a man had to repent and in doing so become like a child whose heart is open and ready to embrace it all.” As Meursault was about to tell the magistrate he did not believe in God, he describes, “But he cut me off and urged me one last time, drawing himself up to his full height and asking me if I believed in God. I said no. He sat down indignantly. He said it was impossible; all men believe in God, even those who turned their backs on him.” The magistrate was completely surprised by Mersault’s statement.  Meursault rejected what society believed he should accept. The magistrate continued saying, “I have never seen a soul as hardened as yours. The criminals who have come before me have always wept at the sight of this image of suffering.” The magistrate had dealt with tough criminals who would become weak and ready to be cleared of their sins with God’s help. Meursault however, felt no emotion. As a Christian, the magistrate could not believe that Meursault did not believe that God suffered for him. Even as Meursault witnesses how the magistrate begins to shout because he is shocked by Meursault’s confession, he refuses to conform to his ideals or those of society. He was authentic and he had a passion for truth. Meursault also began to see how God was being used as a weapon and because of this, not only the magistrate but the community as well began to think he had no soul. Society began to perceive him as a stranger as he refused to believe in God or religion. The magistrate was shocked by how Meursault confessed he did not believe in God and this caused him to believe he had no soul. Meursault eventually dies for not believing in God as people give up on him and view him as a threat, and a stranger with no soul or emotion, who had no right to continue living.

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