The Meursault Investigation

by

Kamel Daoud

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A young teacher who seeks out Harun and Mama in order to learn more about Musa’s murder, which she has read about in Meursault’s novel. Educated, sophisticated, and independent, Meriem introduces Harun to the world of French literature, in particular the book which demeans his brother and which he will spend his life protesting; Mama dislikes Meriem, fearing that her allure may draw Harun away from her. Her fears are somewhat justified, as Harun quickly falls in love with Meriem, experiencing passion with her for the first time. Harun’s feelings for Meriem never develop beyond a summer flirtation—she stops visiting him after he asks her to marry him—but he treasures them for the rest of his life. For him, these tender feelings attest to the value of lived experience, whether or not it is underpinned by religious or philosophical meaning. Harun’s earnest feelings for Meriem contrast with Meursault’s apathy towards his own love interest in The Stranger.

Meriem Quotes in The Meursault Investigation

The The Meursault Investigation quotes below are all either spoken by Meriem or refer to Meriem. 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 14 Quotes

“Everything was written!” Mama blurted out, and I was surprised by the involuntary aptness of her words. Written, yes, but in the form of a book, and not by some God. Did we feel ashamed of our stupidity? Did we contain and irrepressible urge to laugh like foods, us, the ridiculous pair stationed in the wings of a masterpiece we didn’t even know existed?

Related Characters: Harun (speaker), Mama, Meriem
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Meursault Investigation LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Meursault Investigation PDF

Meriem Character Timeline in The Meursault Investigation

The timeline below shows where the character Meriem appears in The Meursault Investigation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
The only exception to Harun’s distrust of women is Meriem, with whom he had a brief relationship in 1963. He still remembers her “wild hair.”... (full context)
Chapter 9
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...his articulate French. Harun says that he learned at school, by teaching himself, and through Meriem. She was the one who introduced him to French literature and Meursault’s book. For Harun,... (full context)
Chapter 12
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
Harun returns to the subject of Meriem, and their brief affair in 1963. He loved to look up from his depression and... (full context)
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
Harun still remembers how beautiful Meriem was, especially her smile and her hair. However, even when he was with her, he... (full context)
Chapter 13
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
Both Mama and Harun are taken aback when a young woman (Meriem) arrives at their house in 1963, asking if they are the family of Musa Uled... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...his life. He’s so used to living reclusively with Mama. The woman introduces herself as Meriem and sits down on a stool, telling Harun that she is a teacher studying a... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...It seems that Musa is rising from the dead again, forcing them to feel grief. Meriem speaks gently to Harun about the book until he starts asking questions. He feels like... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Meriem shows Harun a copy of Meursault’s book. For her, the story seems very simple—the only... (full context)
Chapter 14
Religion and Nihilism Theme Icon
In fact, Meriem is writing her thesis on Meursault’s book, just like the interlocutor. She waits until Mama... (full context)
Colonialism and its Aftermath Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Meriem leaves Harun with the book. Mama is astonished to know that the details of Musa’s... (full context)
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
The next day, Mama has developed hostile feelings towards Meriem and warns Harun not to let her in if she returns. However, he just leaves... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...now. Meursault’s book, and later many other books, form the pretext of their affair as Meriem patiently teaches Harun about literature. When he tries to hold her hands, she laughs but... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...obsessed with it, Harun doesn’t show Mama the book. He also hides his meetings with Meriem. They always spend the day walking around the town or lying under a tree. He... (full context)
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
...end, but he wants to keep it going as long as possible. He believes that Meriem was amused by him until she realized how truly despairing and depressed he was. Or... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
One day while Harun is lying under a tree with Meriem, he leans over and kisses her. When he sits up, he feels that the sky... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...actually he made this anecdote up. He could never have said such a thing because Meriem’s confidence and sophistication intimidated him. Self-assured and independent women have mostly disappeared from Algeria today,... (full context)
Grief and Family Life Theme Icon
After Harun realizes that Meriem has gone for good, he smashes all the dishes in the house while Mama watches... (full context)
Chapter 15
Justice and Retribution Theme Icon
...between his office and apartment. He’s never had a meaningful relationship with a woman after Meriem. (full context)