The Stranger

What strategies does Meursault employ to habituate himself to life in prison while he awaits trial? Does he change as a result of prison confinement? Explain.

Part 2 Chapter 2

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Meursault explains that life in prison could have been much worse for him. The first months were bad because he still thought like a free man. But then he began to think like a prisoner and looked forward to his walks or lawyer visits instead of swimming and cigarettes. He desired a woman most at first but puts it in perspective when he speaks to the head guard who mentions how missing women and cigarettes and so on was the point of prison. It takes away one's freedom. Meursault realizes he is right and soon gets over his first longings. He mentions that Maman had compared man's ability to get used to anything to living in an hollowed tree where one would get used to looking forward to a bird's flight. Meursault is happy enough in prison.

The main problem for him is killing time. He learns to concentrate on remembering every item and detail of his room at home and makes the catalog longer each time so that it becomes a habit. He is soon able to learn how to sleep in prison as well and progresses to sleeping two thirds of the day. He then has less time to kill. Part of that time he kills by rereading the Czech newspaper crime article he finds. The article contains a tragic story and convinces Meursault that it is never a good idea to play games. With this pattern of life, Meursault soon loses track of time as he had heard would occur in prison. Long and short begin to describe each day and when he is told that he has been in prison for five months he believes but does not understand. He looks at his reflection but no matter how he tries to smile the reflection still looks stern. He realizes too that he has been talking to himself and agrees with the nurse from Maman's funeral that there is no way out.