The Stranger

by: Albert Camus

Part Two: Chapter 5

After speaking with the chaplain, Meursault no longer views his impending execution with hope or despair. He accepts death as an inevitable fact and looks forward to it with peace. This realization of death’s inevitability constitutes Meursault’s triumph over society. Expressing remorse over his crime would implicitly acknowledge the murder as wrong, and Meursault’s punishment as justified. However, Meursault’s lack of concern about his death sentence implies that his trial and conviction were pointless exercises. Moreover, Meursault accepts that his views make him an enemy and stranger to society. Meursault anticipates that his position in relation to society will be affirmed when crowds cheer hatefully at him as he is beheaded. Meursault’s eager anticipation of this moment shows he is content being an outsider.

In his heightened state of consciousness prior to his execution, Meursault says that he comes to recognize the “gentle indifference of the world.” Meursault decides that, like him, the world does not pass judgment, nor does it rationally order or control the events of human existence. Yet Meursault does not despair at this fact. Instead, he draws from it a kind of freedom. Without the need for false hope or illusions of order and meaning, Meursault feels free to live a simpler, less burdened life.