Character On Trial

Throughout the back-and-forth between the prosecution and defense, I noticed how odd the trial seemed.
Full disclosure, I am not a lawyer, but even still, something about this trial seemed atypical, unbecoming of a murder case. First of all, only a page or so is dedicated to prosecution of criminal activity (87-88). The diversion to non-criminal affairs is imminent around page 87, when the prosecutor “had to turn to some questions that might seem irrelevant to [Meursault’s] case but might in fact have a significant bearing on it,” whereupon Meursault thinks, “I knew right away he was going to talk about Maman again, and at the same time I could feel how much it irritated me” (87). Later on, there is more discussion that is actually relevant when Raymond is called to the stand. He recounts the relationship between the victim, Meursault, and himself. All the same, take note of the following dialogue between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer.

Prosecutor: “The same man who the day after his mother died was indulging in the most shameful debauchery killed a man for the most trivial of reasons and did so in order to settle an affair of unspeakable vice” (96).

Defense: “Come now, is my client on trial for burying his mother or for killing a man?” (96).

Prosecutor: “Indeed, I accuse this man of burying his mother with crime in his heart!” (96).

The focus on morals in place of criminal activity makes for a strange trial. What is the crime here? The prosecutor may be reaching towards premeditation in his charges. That would make sense, especially considering Meursault was sentenced to death. Chapter 4 better represents a murder trial. Meursault’s motives are discussed. All told, I just can’t get around this oddity.

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