The judge told me to sit down. Everything else after that happened in a blur. My lawyer demanded the jury to not condemn someone who lost control for just one moment. Out of the rest, I only remember the judge telling the jury something about the trial. I noticed the blinds were shut, probably recently, since it had become darker and cooler. The judge commanded me to leave the room. I did, with my lawyer, who tried to assure me the verdict would be favorable, although he didn’t sound very sure of that himself. In a few minutes, I was led back into the courtroom.
The jury had already given their verdict. I had a strange feeling that something was different. I looked around the room and saw the faces of the people. Their eyes were not full of hate, as I thought they would be. Instead, they seemed to be forgiving. The mood in the courtroom was lighter than before. The judge announced my sentence: I was to serve three months in prison for the murder of an Arab. I heard Marie sigh in relief. I realized that I had forgotten all about her since she went up as a witness. I turned to see her smiling. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I returned it.
My lawyer and his associates talked with each other about how fortunate I was. They each patted me on the shoulder and smiled, telling me that I should thank my lawyer. I didn’t think they were right. He didn’t seem to do a good job to me, but I did it anyway because they repeated it so often. The prosecuting lawyer came up to us. He congratulated my lawyer on a job well done. Then he came up to me. He said, “It’s all because you finally admitted that you felt remorse for your mother’s death,” before leaving. I realized then that I actually did say something about feeling so grieved that I held it in.
I don’t know why I said it, but I remember that it was very hot at the time. It was a lie, though, because I have never felt remorse for anything. I don’t know why, but my lie made everyone happy. I think I need to do what’s necessary so that people don’t think I am against society.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. Vintage Books: New York (1988).