The Stranger

How do Meursault's friends and acquaintances explain his actions? What "spin" is the prosecutor able to give to their explanations, and why is it difficult to undo the damage the prosecutor has done to Meursault's prospects for acquittal?

Part Two Chapter 3

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In Part II, Chapter III, the witnesses are called, the home's director being first. He testifies that Meursault was very calm at the funeral: not crying, not wanting to see Maman, and leaving right after. Meursault feels like crying for the first time in years when he perceives the hatred so many people feel for him. The caretaker is the next witness and testifies how little Meursault seemed upset at Maman's coffin. Meursault confirms that he did offer the caretaker a cigarette and the caretaker admits that he did offer Meursault the coffee. Thomas Pérez is next and testifies that he could not see what happened because he had been too overwhelmed by grief. The lawyers go back and forth and prove that he neither saw Meursault cry or not cry.

The defense is called next and Céleste testifies first for Meursault. He states that the crime was just a case of bad luck. He wishes he could do more for Meursault, who thinks that it is the first time he has ever wanted to kiss a man. Marie's testimony is focused most on the day she met Meursault with the prosecutor pointing out that it was the day after Maman's funeral and Meursault had swam, started a disreputable affair and gone to see a comedy in the cinema. Marie becomes upset at her words being used against her and is taken out crying. Masson declares that Meursault was an honest and decent man. Salamano pleads with everyone to understand that Meursault had simply run out things to say to Maman but no one seems to understand. Raymond tries to convince the jury that Meursault had simply been on the beach by chance but the prosecutor notes that it is too coincidental that he wrote the letter to Raymond's girlfriend, did not stop his beating her, was a witness at his summons, and so on all by chance. Meursault is called his accomplice and Raymond is termed a "procurer" of women by the prosecutor. Meursault agrees with the prosecutor that they were friends. Meursault's lawyer attempts to move the focus from Maman but the prosecutor turns it back by saying that Meursault had carried a crime in his heart even then. Things do not look good and the trial is adjourned. Upon leaving the courthouse, Meursault is struck by the smell of the summer night and the happy memories it brings back. The paths he once followed, it seemed, could have led as easily back there as to the prison he returned to.