What is the analysis of: 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...

What is the analysis of:

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. (p 2, ch 1)

Please explain why is this selection important? What ideas, conflicts or themes are represented and how are they framed or resolved elsewhere in the text? How does the specific wording of the passage convey meaning?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The magistrate and other court authorities try to understand Mersault but they can not. Reciprocally, Mersault has trouble understanding the point or significance of some of the magistrate's questions. He doesn't understand what his feelings about his mother have to do with his crime and he doesn't understand what his religious beliefs (or lack thereof) have to do with the crime or court proceedings. What we have here is a failure to communicate. It is as if Mersault and the magistrate, at times, are speaking two different languages. 

The magistrate is a moral man, by his own definitions. But more to the point, the magistrate determines his actions according to social conventions - and these conventions are determined by the state (government, laws) as well as the Christian doctrine. In other words, his life is guided by these "scripts." Mersault is quite different. He does not live his life guided by such scripts; and this frustrates the magistrate. Mersault's existential philosophy is free of any scripts, sometimes to the point of being purposely thoughtless or purposely antithetical to any such script. In this section, he even claims to his lawyer that his physical condition influences him more than his feelings. Thus, he was more tired than grief-stricken at his mother's funeral. 

By the end of this section, the magistrate has given up trying to encourage Mersault to embrace a Christian ethos and he has therefore given up being so frustrated at Mersault's callousness. Things become cordial only because of this. Mersault even comes to enjoy their subsequent discussions because the magistrate is no longer trying to get Mersault to become more like himself: one who follows certain social "scripts" in his life. 

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