The Lost Honor

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In the novel The Outsider, by Albert Camus and in the novel The Lost Honor of Katherina Blum, by Heinrich Boll, the main characters in both novels are wrongfully interrogated because they are judged based on their characters and not the “crimes” they committed. By showing this injustice, the two authors show the readers that society is very judgmental. In The Outsider, the main character Meursault is convicted and tried for allegedly killing a man. Meursault is “appointed” (63) a lawyer who does not attend the interrogation “due to unforeseen circumstances”.

It seems as though the lawyer did not come on purpose because, as the interrogation occurs in the book, the issues of law and religion are mixed together and the interrogation becomes about the fact that Meursault does not believe in god. The interrogation starts with the examining magistrate asking Meursault about his personality. The examining magistrate tries to clear up facts that “puzzle” (66) him about the crime by trying to understand Meursault’s personality. When he does not understand why Meursault would “fire at a dead body” (67), he bring religion and God into the interrogation.

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The church and the judicial systems are separate from one another and the two are not to be mixed in a democratic society. The examining magistrate works for the law and not the church, so he is committing a crime by trying to use religion to explain a crime. In some cases, crimes are committed based on beliefs and religion but in Meursault’s case, the two are completely unrelated and the discussion was “ridiculous” (68). The examining magistrate believes that Meursault is innocent only because he believes that “God” (67) will “pardon” (69) Meursault.

After realizing that Meursault is an “antichrist” (71), the examining magistrate gives up on him and after the interrogation; he lends no assistance to Meursault. This shows that the law, represented, by the examining magistrate, is judgmental. At first Meursault is treated as a “criminal” (68) should be, innocent until proven guilty. But after “the law” (63) learns of Meursault’s personality and behavior, they treat him to be guilty until proven innocent. After this interrogation, the investigation for this “simple” (63) case takes “eleven” (70) months to complete.

It can be suspected that if Meursault “believed God” (68) “like everyone else” (67), than the investigation would have not taken so long and the book would have an entirely different ending. But it is apparent that Meursault’s personality is examined and judged by its “peculiarities” (81) and not the “crime” (81) he committed. Similarly to Meursault, Katharina in the novel The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is even more wrongfully interrogated. The police barge in to her house without warning or a warrant shortly after following her and realizing that Gotten was with her at her apartment.

The police search through all of her belongings after barging in on her early in the morning and ask inappropriate questions like “Well, did he fuck you? ” (19) After she is “taken from her apartment” (21) by the police, she is humiliated by the press. The photographers take “repeated” pictures of her from the “front”, “side” and “behind” (21), making her feel “[a]shame[d]” (22) then she is thrown into a jail cell that has “vomit splattered” (27)all over the toilet seat. Arresting her and locking her up is completely unjustified because the police have no real “evidence” (78) and no bases for an arrest, only suspicions.

But like Meursault, Katharina does cooperate without complaining. The interrogation in the presence of two public prosecutors and other witnesses is unnecessary because it was already being recorded. This is over exaggerated by the police, by making sure many authority figures are there. This could be their way of portraying a fair trial or by portraying Katherina as a dangerous criminal. During the interrogation itself, many very personal questions are asked that are irrelevant to the “crime”.


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