Part 2, Chapter 4
Meursault’s lawyer and the prosecutor both make their closing arguments. Meursault notes that, at heart, the two speeches are the same: both claim that he’s guilty, but one offers an explanation and the other doesn’t. The prosecutor argues that Meursault’s actions were premeditated and that all of his actions are indicative of a criminal mind. He then says that Meursault is a soulless monster who has never expressed remorse for his crimes. He even suggests that, because of his supposed moral culpability in his mother’s death, Meursault is spiritually guilty of the crime to be tried in the court the next day (a parricide).
Astonished, Meursault stands up to say he never intended to kill the Arab man. He did it “because of the sun,” meaning the heat and light that has been oppressing him throughout the novel.
Meursault’s lawyer asks for a few hours to prepare his closing remarks. That afternoon, they return to the courtroom to hear the lawyer’s argument. He speaks in the first person, assuming the role of Meursault as he says, “It is true I killed a man.” This is a rhetorical strategy that all defense lawyers use, according to one of the guards. Meursault finds his lawyer’s closing remarks less skillful than the prosecutor’s. He hears the sound of an ice cream truck and remembers the life he has lost.
Finally, the jury leaves the courtroom to deliberate. It only taken them forty-five minutes to deliver a verdict of “guilty.” The judge then sentences Meursault to death by guillotine. Meursault is given the opportunity to say something but doesn’t.
During his closing statement, the prosecutor argues that Meursault is also guilty of the parricide (or murder of a father) to be tried that following day. Though the prosecutor clearly thinks this to be a logical statement, given his speech, it is an obvious example of hyperbole, because Meursault is in no way culpable for that murder, morally or legally.
Camus has used repetition throughout the last several chapters to both clarify and warp the facts of Meursault’s case. Essentially, the more often these facts are repeated, the more vulnerable they are to interpretation, making it easy for the prosecutor to repeat them all in a damning light that makes Meursault seem like a monster. This is a rhetorical device he’s using to make it difficult for the jury to interpret the facts any other way.
Prosopopoeia is a rhetorical device in which a speaker (in this case, Meursault’s lawyer) speaks on behalf of another person (in this case, Meursault). Typically, this only occurs when the other person is physically absent. However, an argument can be made that, because Meursault describes himself as “far removed from the courtroom,” he's spiritually “absent” enough for his lawyer to use the rhetorical device of prosopopoeia during summation.
The Tin Trumpet. The ice cream vendor’s tin trumpet symbolizes not only freedom but joy: the joy of life in summer, the sweet cool ice cream breaking through the heat, the pleasure of pleasure itself. Once convicted, Meursault will never experience these things again.