Physical Confinement Frees the Mind

At the beginning of the book, Mersault is solely focused on physical desires and stimulation, without much regard for internal reflection. However, towards the end of the book, Mersault is forced to use his thoughts to stay content, and therefore enters a period of reflection, a process we have seen to be very limited and most of the time nonexistent for Mersault. Specifically, when Mersault is in his jail cell, he comes to a realization that life and time are meaningless. Although readers have made inferences on this attitude Mersault has on life even from the beginning of the book, this seems to be the first time Mersault himself realizes why he doesn’t care and has reflected and fully come to the conclusion that life is meaningless.

“For the first time in a long time I thought about Maman. I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life she had taken a “fiance”, why she had played at beginning again…For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world, Finding it so much like myself…”(p 122).

Here we see Mersault understand not only his Mom but himself. Given that this is the first time we see Mersault reflect on his mothers death, this understanding shows growth, also seen through his self-reflection that follows.

2 thoughts on “Physical Confinement Frees the Mind

  1. LucaL

    This a very intriguing point, one that I didn’t consider before. Meursault was definitely uncomfortable before being put in jail, but he was also uncomfortable at the beginning of his time in jail. I think that his death sentence played a major role in his state of mind, as once he truly had no chance of being free did he accept his position.


  2. MAEVE M

    I think this is very interesting how once all of the distractions of life are removed by the jail cell, Meursault has to actually self-reflect. It seems that he is more content with himself now that he takes the time to think about who he is.


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