The first reading Thommo presented was Meursault's response to his employer when a posting to Paris was offered with a promotion. He is quite non-committal, and the employer, discerning his indifference, chides him for his lack of ambition. This brings out one side of his character. The second passage has a bit of humour in the light banter about marrying Marie who is keen for the relationship to be formalised. Meursault is not, and though he's not in love, merely wanting to have a good time, he finally obliges Marie: they will get married. She remarks he's a 'queer fellow'.
Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. ... artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge.
I knew I’d shattered the balance of the day, the spacious calm of this beach on which I had been happy. But I fired four shots more into the inert body, on which they left no visible trace. And each successive shot was another loud, fateful rap on the door of my undoing.
J'ai compris que j'avais détruit l'équilibre du jour, le silence exceptionnel d'une plage où j'avais été heureux. Alors, j'ai tiré encore quatre fois sur un corps inerte où les balles s'enfonçaient sans qu'il y parût. Et c'était comme quatre coups brefs que je frappais sur la porte du malheur.
The scene of the trial which Zakia read makes Meursault seem a stranger to himself. Talitha noted that he relishes the simple state of joy, and this could be a 'religious' experience for him, even though he disavows religion. Priya made the point that all of us at times feel the pointlessness of life keenly, though we might come to terms with it and recover some meaning, and balance the pointlessness against some purpose that we discover; yet the dark feeling still hovers in the background.
Priya read the passage in which Meursault tells the chaplain 'not to waste his rotten prayers' on him. All are privileged, not merely those who have religious faith, and all are marching toward the same fate, death. Meursault feels that 'none of his [the chaplain's] certainties was worth one strand of a woman’s hair.'
Meursault wonders why the chaplain, as a man also condemned to death ultimately, cannot sense the dark wind from the future that 'had been blowing toward me, all my life long, from the years that were to come.'
I was very tired and my legs were aching badly. And now I realized that the silence of these people was telling on my nerves. The only sound was a rather queer one; it came only now and then, and at first I was puzzled by it. However, after listening attentively, I guessed what it was; the old men were sucking at the insides of their cheeks, and this caused the odd, wheezing noises that had mystified me. They were so much absorbed in their thoughts that they didn’t know what they were up to. I even had an impression that the dead body in their midst meant nothing at all to them. But now I suspect that I was mistaken about this.
In the passage Salamano, the geezer whose dog was abused and loved by him at the same time, is having a chat with Meursault. Talitha mentioned that the phrase Il était avec son chien in the original is differently translated by SG and MW:
For after taking much thought, calmly, I came to the conclusion that what was wrong about the guillotine was that the condemned man had no chance at all, absolutely none. In fact, the patient’s death had been ordained irrevocably. It was a foregone conclusion. If by some fluke the knife didn’t do its job, they started again. So it came to this, that—against the grain, no doubt—the condemned man had to hope the apparatus was in good working order! This, I thought, was a flaw in the system; and, on the face of it, my view was sound enough. On the other hand, I had to admit it proved the efficiency of the system. It came to this; the man under sentence was obliged to collaborate mentally, it was in his interest that all should go off without a hitch.
'this business of dying had to be got through, inevitably.'
I said, without thinking: “Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.”
Doesn't matter we married men of this kind. We won't let our daughters marry the same kind.
Look at Mersault's thoughts, there was no trace of violence; even in that extreme condition, his mind could imagine and transport him to a cool private recess.
The Arab displayed aggression and he waited for his chance to pounce on Merausalt. M could have tried to run away from the situation. And the thought did cross his mind: " It struck me that all I had to do was to turn, walk away, and think no more about it".
3. Bobby's answer:
5. Joe's answer:
In Sivaram's absence here is the reference to the Nobel Banquet speech of Albert Camus:
For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit it in order to make it resound by means of his art.
1. Part I, Section V, p. 28
Part I, Section VI Page 37-39 – The encounter on the beach with the Arab
Part II, Section IV, p.65 (the Trial)
Part I, end of Section V, p.31 (Salamano's dog is lost)