The Stranger

Free The Stranger by Albert Camus

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Authors: Albert Camus
was with me each time. But it was just a matter of clarifying certain things in my previous statements. Or else the magistrate would discuss the charges with my lawyer. But on those occasions they never really paid much attention to me. Anyway, the tone of the questioning gradually changed. The magistrate seemed to have lost interest in me and to have come to some sort of decision about my case. He didn’t talk to me about God anymore, and I never saw him as worked up as he was that first day. The result was that our discussions became more cordial. A few questions, a brief conversation with my lawyer, and the examinations were over. As the magistrate put it, my case was taking its course. And then sometimes, when the conversation was of a more general nature, I would be included. I started to breathe more freely. No one, in any of these meetings, was rough with me. Everything was so natural, so well handled, and so calmly acted out that I had the ridiculous impression of being “one of the family.” And I cansay that at the end of the eleven months that this investigation lasted, I was almost surprised that I had ever enjoyed anything other than those rare moments when the judge would lead me to the door of his office, slap me on the shoulder, and say to me cordially, “That’s all for today, Monsieur Antichrist.’ I would then be handed back over to the police.

    There are some things I’ve never liked talking about. A few days after I entered prison, I realized that I wouldn’t like talking about this part of my life.
    Later on, though, I no longer saw any point to my reluctance. In fact, I wasn’t really in prison those first few days: I was sort of waiting for something to happen. It was only after Marie’s first and last visit that it all started. From the day I got her letter (she told me she would no longer be allowed to come, because she wasn’t my wife), from that day on I felt that I was at home in my cell and that my life was coming to a standstill there. The day of my arrest I was first put in a room where there were already several other prisoners, most of them Arabs. They laughed when they saw me. Then they asked me what I was in for. I said I’d killed an Arab and they were all silent. A few minutes later, it got dark. They showed me how to fix the mat I was supposed to sleep on. One end could be rolled up to make a pillow. All night I felt bugs crawling over my face. A few days later I was put in a cell by myself, where I slept on wooden boards suspended from the wall. I had a bucketfor a toilet and a tin washbasin. The prison was on the heights above the town, and through a small window I could see the sea. One day as I was gripping the bars, my face straining toward the light, a guard came in and told me I had a visitor. I thought it must be Marie. It was.
    To get to the visiting room I went down a long corridor, then down some stairs and, finally, another corridor. I walked into a very large room brightened by a huge bay window. The room was divided into three sections by two large grates that ran the length of the room. Between the two grates was a space of eight to ten meters which separated the visitors from the prisoners. I spotted Marie standing at the opposite end of the room with her striped dress and her sun-tanned face. On my side of the room there were about ten prisoners, most of them Arabs. Marie was surrounded by Moorish women and found herself between two visitors: a little, thin-lipped old woman dressed in black and a fat, bareheaded woman who was talking at the top of her voice and making lots of gestures. Because of the distance between the grates, the visitors and the prisoners were forced to speak very loud. When I walked in, the sound of the voices echoing off the room’s high, bare walls and the harsh light pouring out of the sky onto the windows and spilling into the room brought on a kind of dizziness. My cell was quieter and darker. It took me a few seconds to adjust.

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