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Part 2, Chapter 1: Summary and Analysis

Part II, Chapter 1 Summary

A week after Meursault's arrest, he's questioned by the magistrate. During the first interrogation, Meursault reveals that he has not hired a lawyer. He's then appointed a lawyer, who visits him in prison to discuss the case. It seems that investigators have spoken to people at his mother's home and discovered that he "showed insensitivity" during the wake. Meursault's response to this (that he may or may not have loved Maman and that it doesn't matter, either way) upsets the lawyer a great deal. In fact, he appears disgusted by Meursault and leaves angry.

Once again, Meursault is taken to see the magistrate. His lawyer isn't present, due to "unforeseen circumstances." This time, the magistrate has two main questions: did Meursault love his mother and why did he pause between the first and second shot? Meursault answers the first question in an indifferent tone of voice, stating that he loved his mother as much as anyone else, but doesn't explain why he shot the Arab man four more times. He doesn't have a good reason.

Frustrated, the magistrate shows Meursault a silver crucifix, insisting that God will forgive him if he repents. When this backfires, the magistrate gets angry and declares that Meursault is the most hard-hearted criminal he has ever met. He becomes dejected and loses interest in Meursault, or at least in saving his soul. Their subsequent meetings always include Meursault's lawyer. These are all so routine that Meursault begins to think almost fondly of the magistrate. Eleven months into the investigation, however, the magistrate shows how he really feels when he refers to Meursault as "Monsieur Antichrist."

Part II, Chapter 1 Analysis

Hyperbole

Though the magistrate isn't aware of it, his renaming of Meursault as "Monsieur Antichrist" is an example of hyperbole. Meursault, who has expressed little interest in religion, is by no means the Antichrist and does not symbolize the end of society or the triumph of sin. Suggesting as much is inappropriate and demonstrates prejudice against Meursault, who doesn't receive a fair trial.

Motifs

Light and Heat.  Camus returns to the motif of light and heat in this chapter, as Meursault sits in the unusually...

(The entire section is 553 words.)