The Meursault Investigation

by

Kamel Daoud

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Joseph / The Frenchman Character Analysis

A young Frenchman and friend of the Larquais family, Mama’s employers in Hadjout. After the War of Liberation, Joseph sneaks into the Larquais’ garden to take refuge, whereupon Mama orders Harun to kill him. That Harun can kill Joseph and go unpunished shows the extent to which colonial politics have been reversed by the war—now it’s French people, not Arabs, whose deaths are regarded as indispensable by the regime. Since Musa was killed by a French settler, Meursault, Mama sees this murder as an act of retribution for Musa’s death, and she lives much more tranquilly afterward; in contrast, Harun is unable to move past the murder even though he claims to feel no guilt over it.

Joseph / The Frenchman Quotes in The Meursault Investigation

The The Meursault Investigation quotes below are all either spoken by Joseph / The Frenchman or refer to Joseph / The Frenchman . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Other Press edition of The Meursault Investigation published in 2015.
Chapter 9 Quotes

At the moment when I committed my crime, I felt a door somewhere was definitively closing on me. I concluded that I had been condemned – and for that, I’d needed neither judge nor God nor the charade of a trial. Only myself.

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Joseph / The Frenchman
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

I killed a man, and since then, life is no longer sacred in my eyes. After what I did, the body of every woman I met quickly lost its sensuality, its possibility of giving me an illusion of the absolute. Every surge of desire was accompanied by the knowledge that life reposes on nothing solid.

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Joseph / The Frenchman
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

He started stammering, declaring that killing and making war were not the same thing, that we weren’t murderers but liberators, that nobody had given me orders to kill that Frenchman, and that I should have done it before.

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Joseph / The Frenchman , The Officer
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

They were going to set me free without explanation, whereas I wanted to be sentenced. I wanted to be relieved of the heavy shadow that was turning my life into darkness.

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Joseph / The Frenchman
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

The gratuitousness of Musa’s death was unconscionable. And now my revenge had just been struck down to the same level of insignificance!

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Musa, Joseph / The Frenchman
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Meursault Investigation LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Meursault Investigation PDF

Joseph / The Frenchman Character Timeline in The Meursault Investigation

The timeline below shows where the character Joseph / The Frenchman appears in The Meursault Investigation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
In this tableau, Meursault looks nothing like “the other one,” the Frenchman Harun killed. That man was very large and blonde. Harun knows his interlocutor is wondering... (full context)
Chapter 8
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Harun shoots the Frenchman with seven bullets, two more than Meursault fired into Musa. Mama stands behind him the... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
After killing the Frenchman, Harun feels a sense of immense freedom. Finally, he’s no longer being silently asked to... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...the details of his own crime. It occurs to Harun that he has murdered the Frenchman around two in the morning, just as Meursault murdered Musa at two in the afternoon. (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Harun and Mama bury the Frenchman’s body quickly. No one seems to have noticed the gunshots. In any case, right now... (full context)
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Harun didn’t even know the Frenchman he killed. He resumes his story. Moments before the murder, the Frenchman climbs the wall... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...them protesting the recent murder of two French people by resistance fighters. He notices the Frenchman whom he will shoot two days later, wearing the same shirt. When they make eye... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Harun is sure that he and Mama thought about Musa simultaneously, believing that killing this Frenchman is their duty to Musa and at the same time a chance to move past... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
After shooting the Frenchman, Harun drags his corpse into the courtyard, where he and Mama bury it with difficulty.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...him. In his imagination, Meursault is the protagonist and questions him about his family history. Joseph, the Frenchman he has killed, is there, as is Harun’s Koran-reciting neighbor, who visits him... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...bar, so he wants to return to the story of his murder. After he kills Joseph, he doesn’t wish for his lost innocence but rather misses “the border that had existed... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
...more like a statue than a person. Now that she has compelled Harun to execute Joseph, she has no more reason for existence. (full context)
Chapter 10
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
The day after Harun murders Joseph, everything is tranquil. He wakes up to the smell of coffee and Mama singing in... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...that day. He feels stunned by the fact that he is alive, when Musa and Joseph are not. He can’t believe that Mama is going about her tasks normally and talking... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...Algerians and Frenchmen he doesn’t know. He readily admits that he’s suspected of killing a Frenchman, and everyone avoids him. He waits in the cell overnight, until a guard ushers him... (full context)
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...living and the dead just by changing his name, from Harun to Musa, Meursault, or Joseph. These days, death is as random and “absurd” as it was when Meursault killed Musa.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
...new Army of National Liberation, who asks about Harun personal details and whether he knew Joseph. Harun knows he doesn’t have to lie—he’s been arrested not for killing but “for not... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...the truth. He even laughs at the idea of judging an Algerian for murdering a Frenchman. The officer says that Harun has been arrested because he killed Joseph on his own,... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...begins a long speech about the sacrifices made by soldiers. Harun should have killed the Joseph “with us, during the war,” instead of by himself. Harun says he doesn’t see the... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...the army was fighting for freedom rather than committing random murders. Harun should have killed Joseph before July 5, when the war ended. (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...silence, Harun asks whether it counted as before or after the war if he killed Joseph on July 5 at two o’clock in the morning. The officer slaps him in the... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
Harun explains to the interlocutor why Mama decided he must kill Joseph (he believes that Mama chose her victim, even though technically he came to the house... (full context)
Chapter 13
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...when she stops talking about Musa so much. Perhaps she already had a premonition that Joseph would appear in the courtyard. Now, he doesn’t even know what became of the newspaper... (full context)