The Fall

An examination of the main character in Albert Camus’s The Fall.

Albert Camus’s hero in “The Fall”, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, is concerned with guilt. This paper explains how the ex-judge is living in a self-imposed exile in Amsterdam. It shows how Camus uses an analogy similar to Dante’s Inferno in order to provide the reader with an understanding of Clamence’s journey from self-absorbed pity and recrimination to a full understanding of the human potential. It explains how Camus proposes, through his narrative, the basic assumption that people are not merely things to be used to reach one’s goal, but are sentient beings with worth beyond measure.
The fall begins in darkness, where life is as bitter as death. This is the point where Clamence realizes he has strayed from a rightful path. It becomes his task to educate others concerning the good that he learned and the questions he was able to answer for himself. In so doing, he climbs a metaphorical mountain that will lead him to goodness. The darkness is, of course, the darkness of questioning long and deeply held beliefs. He feels that the moral journey ‘out of the darkness and to the summit’ will be difficult, but he is willing to undertake it so that he may find answers that will lead him back into understanding.