Many people often base their opinions on a person by judging his whole life in general and his attitude towards life without caring about who the person really is deep down inside. This unfair reasoning can occur in the courtroom when people are put on trial and the judge and the jury must delve into the life of the accused and determine if he is a hazard to society.Occasionally, the judge and jury are too concerned with the accusedâ€™s past that they become too biased and give an unfair conviction and sentencing. In his novel, The Stranger, Albert Camus uses the courtroom as a symbol to represent society that judges the main character, Meursalt, unfairly to illustrate how society forms opinions based on oneâ€™s past.
Meursalt faces a jury and a tough prosecutor when he is on trial, and they all try to form an opinion on Meursalt based on what he has done before killing the Arab man. The director of the funeral home testifies that Meursalt shows no emotion towards his motherâ€™s death, and that he â€œhadnâ€™t cried once, and that Meursalt had left right after the funeral without paying his last respects at her grave.â€ (89).
Society creates an imaginary rule where one must cry and show penitence at a funeral in order to be looked upon as a normal human being. It is not fair that Meursalt is judged for his lack of feelings at the funeral because it is his own choice to show remorse and to express his feelings as he pleases; his lack of feelings do not mean that he is not heartbroken about the loss of his mother. As the trial progresses, the prosecutor makes a statement of all the things that Meursalt did a day after his motherâ€™s death, â€œâ€œGentlemen of the jury, the day after his motherâ€™s death, this man was out swimming, starting up a dubious liaison, and going to the movies, a comedy, for laughs.â€â€ (94).
The courtroom portrays Meursalt as an appalling man for enjoying himself the day after his motherâ€™s funeral. The broad statement said by the prosecutor shows that society does not allow one to have any entertaining moments after a time of repentance because it is thought to be disrespectful. A quick rebuttal by Meursaltâ€™s lawyer helps realign the trial so that it is actually focusing on why they are having the trial in the first place by saying, â€œâ€œCome now, is my client on trial for burying his mother or for killing a man?â€ The spectators laughed.â€ (96). The trial never focuses on why Meursalt killed the Arab man and no one ever bothers to make any real efforts to discover his motives.
This reveals that the courtroom is more interested in the type of person Meursalt is and how he can be a danger to society than the death of the Arab. The courtroom judges Meursalt as a heartless man with the only intention of killing a man because he felt like it, yet neither ever proves the killing of the Arab, not even in their closing speeches. In the two lawyersâ€™ summations, both summarize Meursalt and portray him in either a good or bad light based on his characteristics and his past actions.
The prosecutorâ€™s concluding speech depicts Meursalt as a callous man not capable of feelings because of Meursaltâ€™s actions during the trial saying that â€œâ€œNot once during the preliminary hearings did this man show emotion over his heinous offense.â€â€.