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But there is a wide difference between a man sentenced to death, as Meursault is, because he has committed a specific crime recognised as such in all legal systems, and the innumerable victims oflegalised but quite arbitrary state violence that Camus is talking about in La Peste. This difference becomes even more noticeable if you follow up the implications of the 1955 preface and look at Meursault's attitude to truth in the first part of the novel as well as in the second. Meursault first becomes involved in the events which lead to his own and the Arab's death when he agrees to write a letter to Raymond's Arab girlfriend.
It had done so, theoretically, in order to fulfil its treaty obligations to defend Poland. Poland had been overrun by Germany in a fortnight. Soviet Russia, until 23 August 1939 the sworn enemy offascist Germany and the home of the socialist ideal, had then suddenly become Germany's ally. Less than a month later, it had joined with her in the destruction of Poland. After having been reassured, by posters on every wall, that they would win because they were stronger, the French had then seen their army defeated in under two months.
Although he may have been a student, there is no evidence of his ever reading a book. Meursault's awareness of death and his virtual obsession with physical sensations nevertheless make him a kind of photographic negative of the more vigorous heroes of the absurd celebrated in Le My the de Sisyphe, just as his passion for truth shows itself very clearly in the way he rejects religion. The juge d'instruction, the examining magistrate responsible for interviewing him after his crime, makes every attempt to persuade Meursault to acknowledge his guilt and express remorse.