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Abby Broadhurst

IB English – Pd. 1
Mr. Jameson
November19, 2012

A Senseless Murder

Eleven months ago, a Frenchman by the name of Meursault was found on a beach “in the
outskirts of Algiers” (Camus 49). Standing near a section of rock with a spring behind it, Meursault
was found holding a gun and standing directly in front of an Arab man dressed in blue overalls who
had been shot five times. The examiners have discovered that it is likely the Arab was dead after the
first shot. This was verified by the suspect’s statement that after the initial shot, he “fired four more
times at the motionless body” (59). Although there were no witnesses to the crime, we have obtained
a statement from Meursault and have spoken to various acquaintances of his which include four
individuals with whom he had been vacationing at the time of the murder. These individuals include
a young woman named Marie, a man named Masson and his wife, and a man named Raymond who
we believe may have been influential in Meursault’s final decision to pull the trigger.

Several days prior to the friends’ visit to the beach, Raymond had been summoned to the
police station by an officer called to the man’s apartment to investigate domestic abuse. This was
after other tenants had reported hearing “some thuds” and a woman screaming “in a terrifying way”
(35). After Raymond opened the door, a Moorish woman exited and informed the policeman “that
Raymond had hit her” (36). Further evidence of problems between Raymond and those of Arab
ethnicity was found in Raymond’s disrespect towards the investigating cop, who was also Arab. It
was also discovered that the suspect, Meursault, had been involved in this ordeal as he had acted as a
witness for Raymond, testifying that the woman had cheated on Raymond. Raymond only received a
warning for the incident with the woman.

During the murder investigation, questions were raised about Meursault’s character in
general (in order to determine whether he was indeed capable of murder) and for this reason, we have
interviewed several individuals who were present at the burial of Meursault’s mother, whom he had
placed in a home in Marengo after claiming he could not afford to provide proper care for her. The
caretaker at the home, who was responsible for opening the casket, states that the suspect did not
want to see his recently deceased mother for a last time but rather appeared indifferent to the whole
ordeal. The caretaker remembers finding this odd as Meursault was unable to provide further
explanation. Others who attended the vigil also noted Meursault’s marked indifference and even
disrespect as he did not appear to be mourning. Instead, tenants remember him drinking coffee and
smoking in front of the casket. During the procession, one of the men walking alongside the hearse
asked Meursault whether his mother was old and remembers Meursault being unable to provide an
exact age, his response solely being “fairly” (16). Those involved in the burial with whom we have
spoken seem somewhat concerned and suspicious about Meursault’s apathy and obvious discomfort
at the burial. The accounts we have received from the burial indicate that Meursault could in fact
have the emotional capacity to commit murder.
Further support of Meursault’s indifference to his mother’s death is evidenced by Meursault’s
actions after the day of the burial. On Saturday, Meursault took a trip to the beach where he met with
the woman named Marie. Apparently, the couple was seen frolicking in the waves and even went to a
comedy show later that day. Undoubtedly, Meursault was not haunted by his mother’s death nor was
he concerned with the typical mourning period people usually observe.

Although Meursault’s indifference and callousness is evident from the “investigation into
[his] private life,” his personal statement, which was provided during an eleven month investigation
with the examining magistrate and an appointed lawyer, did not provide any information to discount
that which we have already obtained (64). When told that he had “shown insensitivity” the day of his
mother’s funeral, Meursault responded that he “probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean
anything” (64-65). His explanation for this was that his “nature [is] such that his physical needs
often [get] in the way of his feelings” (65). Obviously, Meursault is not prone to emotional
responses which make the motivation behind the murder even more unclear. However, Meursault
did state that “at one time or another all normal people have wished their loved ones dead,” a
comment the lawyer found highly inappropriate, especially considering the circumstances and the
fact that Meursault is being investigated for murder.

When interviewed by the examining magistrate, Meursault informed him that he loved his
mother “the same as anyone,” an indication that in his mind nobody is worthy of special merit (67).
Then, when asked specifically about the day of the murder, Meursault appeared to have difficulty
answering questions. He was unable to provide any explanation for the magistrate’s questions about
why Meursault hesitated between the first and second shots and why he fired at a motionless body.
The lack of explanation is curious as there is no apparent reason for the crime other than the fact that
the Arab and Meursault’s friend Raymond had had a disagreement. By the end of the investigation,
the examining magistrate was able to conclude that he had “never seen a soul as hardened as
[Meursault’s]” (70). Meursault’s only response to the investigation was a display of distinct
boredom and the statement that he “felt kind of annoyed” about the whole thing rather than remorse
for his actions.

The facts of the case, as provided by Meursault and investigators follow:

1) On the day that Meursault, Marie, and Raymond were going to visit friends, Meursault
remembers feeling “completely drained” (47). However, upon boarding the bus and arriving
at the beach, he felt better as he was able to joke around and enjoy his friends’ company.
After arriving, he and Marie enjoyed the sunlight and “were happy” swimming in the ocean
(50). At this point there was no indication of anything wrong and certainly no hint of what
was to come.
2) Later on that same day, there had been a confrontation between two Arabs (who have a
history with Raymond-he reported seeing them following him earlier that day) and Raymond,
Masson, and Meursault. Although Meursault was not directly involved in the ensuing
conflict, Raymond was cut across the arm and mouth by one of the Arabs. When Raymond
and Masson left for a doctor, Meursault stayed at the bungalow with Marie and Masson’s
wife. However, once again there was a complete lack of emotion as Meursault refused to
explain Raymond’s injury to the women, preferring to smoke a cigarette and stare at the sea.
Not only does he show the inability to have an emotional response to the death of his mother
but also to the injury of a friend.
3) Afterwards, Raymond and Meursault went for another walk along the beach and encountered
the Arabs at the same rock and spring where the murder later occurred. It seems Raymond
was trying to instigate a fight, despite the Arabs somewhat relaxed and unthreatening
position. To credit Meursault, when Raymond asked whether he should shoot the Arab,
Meursault told him to “take him on man to man and give [Meursault]” the gun (56). It is at
this time where Meursault obtained the gun. The decision to remove the gun from
Raymond’s possession and this promotion of justice indicates that there was some logic in
Meursault’s decision at this point. Despite Raymond’s deliberate aggression, the two Arabs
left and the Frenchmen returned to the bungalow.
4) Meursault, however, did not enter but rather decided to go on yet another walk. He still had
Raymond’s gun with him which indicates that he was considering using it. Claiming that he
was only “thinking of the cool spring behind the rock,” Meursault returned to where he last
encountered the Arabs and found “that Raymond’s man had come back” again (57).
Although the Arab was alone and “lying on his back,” Meursault states that upon his
approach the Arab put his hands in his pocket (57). In response, Meursault
“naturally….gripped Raymond’s gun” (58). This is the last coherent information we could
obtain about the day of the murder. When asked about his thoughts at this moment,
Meursault described feeling overwhelmed by the sunlight, as if it “was pressing on [his]
back” (58). He then tried to explain further, mentioning how the burning of the sun “made
[him] move forward” because he “couldn’t stand it anymore” (59). As Meursault continued
to try to explain, it became clear that his sense of logic and reason was lost in this “battle”
with the sun that he remembers so vividly and which he seems to blame for making him pull
the trigger (although the five shots indicate that the firing of the weapon was indeed a
conscious decision).

Although there is no evident motivation, it seems there was both capability and intent. This
is demonstrated by Meursault’s lack of emotion and coolness after the initial confrontation with the
Arabs, his obtaining the gun, and his deliberately returning to the location where he had last seen the
Arabs. The purpose of this murder is unclear as Meursault even mentioned that “as far as [he] was
concerned, the whole thing was over” (58). This is not demonstrated by his subsequent actions,
however, as is clearly evident in the murder. The only indication of Meursault’s understanding of
morality is from his insistence that Raymond did not simply shoot the Arab without a proper fight.
Overall, it is difficult to understand the depth of Meursault’s character and thought process.

Clearly, this is a unique case as the murder appears to be largely irrational and without
motivation. Although Meursault seems to recognize that he did not have to pull the trigger, he does
not display any sort of remorse or regret for his ultimate decision to do so. This is much different
from many of the criminals we have investigated who tend to repent for their sins. According to the
reports of Meursault’s past acquaintances as well as his interactions with the examining magistrate
and lawyer, we have concluded that Meursault demonstrates a high level of indifference and apathy
towards everyday life. This is one of several indications that confirm his capability to commit
murder. However, it is difficult to discern what Meursault’s thought process was during his
interactions with the Arab. Discounting strange mentions of his actions being caused by the sun,
Meursault was unable to provide a valid explanation for his actions. The only possible explanation is
his friendship with Raymond who has had unseemly dealings with Arabs. However, this is still a
poor explanation of why Meursault, who had no personal stake in the disagreement between
Raymond and the Arab, found it necessary to commit murder. Even though the purpose is still
unclear, Meursault’s resolution and intent to commit murder has been confirmed by the five bullets
found lodged in the victim’s body. The lack of emotion and remorse involved in the murder indicate
that Meursault could be a threat to both himself and to society.