Clamence’s Absence of Morals in the Fall
In The Fall In Albert Camas’ novel. The Fall, he portrays the character of Jean-Baptists Clarence as a depressed, narcissistic recluse who, in his “past-life,” had a noble career at one point, but due to his complete nonexistence of any morals, lost it all and ended up in the shadiest section of Amsterdam: a part of town that shortly became his own personal hell. In the regards to human life and the value of humans, Clarence simply does not feel the necessity to care for anyone or anything more than himself.
Despite the way he presents himself to his listener (or the reader), he leads an absurdist lifestyle, only caring for his day to day needs and giving no feelings of empathy to others. His monologue makes him sound like he is happy with his shady existence, but If one further analyzes his psyche, one may conclude that Clarence Is truly unhappy with the decisions he has made based on his absence of morals. In his collection of essays, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camas describes an absurdist as one who “does nothing for the eternal. Not that nostalgia is foreign to him.
But he prefers his courage and his reasoning” (66). By this reasoning, Clarence is a prime definition of the absurd man because he lives moment to moment, not focusing on the future consequences and preferring to do things by his own reckoning. Nostalgia is not foreign to Clarence, as the entire novel is a recollection of his life up until, and after, he arrived in Amsterdam. Contrary to a man who is not absurd, Nostalgia is the only concrete matter that Clarence has left in his life. Calamine’s courage Is one of his own, one that differs from the standard criteria of “courage. When one thinks of courage, one may think of bravery or valor. It Is apparent that Clarence has neither of these throughout his recollections. He repeatedly denies opportunities to be courageous (I. E. Watching a woman Jump off a bridge to her death rather than stopping to help her) and due to his “courage” being something not defined in the standard sense, or not existent at all, he is classified as an absurd man. An aspect of Calamine’s beliefs that helps to emphasize his moral deficiency is his sexism and otherwise complete feeling of elitism and sense of being far above the rest of society. The lowest man in the social scale still has his wife or his child. If he’s unmarried, a dog. The essential thing, after all, is being able to get angry with someone who has no right to talk back. ‘One doesn’t talk back to one’s father… ” (44). In this passage, Clarence Illustrates his belief that he Is a part of a dominant gender and species. This assumption is made purely on a bigoted, arrogant basis, claiming that men are dominant over women and all other species for that matter.
With these thoughts and Ideas, It Is apparent that Clarence Is completely devoid of morals and, one may go so far as to say, delusional. His delusion is he feels that every one of his in the slightest and are all terrible, immoral acts. When one sees Clarence making statements such as “The truth is that every intelligent man, as you know, dreams of being a gangster and of ruling over society by force alone” (55), it is obvious that there is a very lucid sensation of elitism in what Clarence states. His elitist values shine through in statements such as this.
A person who feels that the main goal of humanity is to be a gangster and to rule by force over the entirety of society is one that can be assumed to be completely devoid of any morals or values, except for those of elitism and debauchery. Regardless of his social and career standings, Clarence is still simply a low-life who tries to Justify his iniquities by referring to said standings, drawing on that as his only self-validation. He states in The Fall, “But, after all, I was on the right side; that was enough to satisfy my conscience. The feeling of the law, the satisfaction of being right, the Joy of self esteem… (18). In this passage, Clarence tells the reader that even though he may be wrong in what he does, he feels vindicated in his wrongdoings. Simply being a Judge-penitent is enough for Clarence to feel satiated in his injustices and to give him what he feels is a clear conscience. Dostoevsky wrote in Notes From Underground that: “Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone but only his friends… But there are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. (28). By this passage in Dostoevsky Underground, one can draw the conclusion that he is not even a decent man because a decent man is not only able to keep secrets, but does indeed keep them, not only from others, but from himself. Clarence opens up and shares his entire life story with a stranger he meets in a shady Amsterdam bar and because of is inability to maintain even a miniscule level of secrecy, it can be assumed that he is not a decent man, which attributes to his absence of morals.
Immorality does not simply consist of a skewed view on dominance, nor is it Just an imaginary Justification for iniquity, but it is also the nonexistence of concern for fellow humans. While walking across a bridge (and possibly contemplating his own suicide), Clarence notices a woman slowly climbing the hand railing on the bridge. Sevens Search© states in an essay on the I-J Albert Camas Society website that “It is t this time that Clarence cannot hamper the suicide of a young girl, because it would mean to get his own life at risk. Search©’s statement illustrates the feeling of elitism that Clarence gives to the value of his life over the life of the woman. He continues to Just watch from a distance as she lets go of the railing and hurls herself into the river and into certain bereavement. The claims made by Clarence earlier in his monologue that he cares about other people, not only because it was his career but because he generally was concerned about his fellow human, are hereby proven rang as he watches a fellow human end her own life.
Despite his past efforts to help feed the poor, defend “widows and orphans,” etc. , he is clearly shown to be a selfish absurdist who lives solely for himself. All throughout the novel, Clarence subtly Judges all who encounter him, giving himself a boost of his ego and making him feel much better about himself and his wrongdoings. Yet, he is aware of his Judging and the Judging of others, and almost finds comfort in it. He states “People hasten to Judge in order not to be Judged and the rest of the world pass on to others.
Calamine’s occupation as an ex-lawyer edge-penitent makes it easier for him to be Judgmental towards any and all persons simply because it is his occupation to do so. He may describe it as noble, charitable defense of the defenseless, but it is simply an excuse for it to be easier for him to judge others both inside and out of the courtroom. Aside from being immoral and completely indifferent towards the value of other human lives, Clarence does not castigate debauchery, in fact he advocates it.
He justifies the use of debauchery to his listener (or the reader) by saying: reveal this secret to you, cheer am’, don’t fear to make use of it. Then you’ll see that true debauchery is liberating because it creates no obligations. In it you possess only yourself; hence it remains the favorite pastime of the great lovers of their own person” (103). In saying this, Clarence is both encouraging the listener to act in a debaucheries manner and promoting a mentality of selfishness and a life lived for oneself only.
A person with even the slightest amount of morals, or even with a general idea of the difference between good and bad, would be able to foresee the possible chastising that may come from living out of selfishness and mindless self indulgence. Had any morals been present, Clarence may have been able to make decisions earlier in his life that would have had a less amount of debauchery and in leading a better, more human lifestyle he would have not endorsed the use of said debauchery.
Throughout his life, Jean-Baptists Clarence makes poor decisions, proves to the people around him that he is completely devoid of morals, and creates a chain of events, the last link of which is his residing in the shadiest part of Amsterdam: damned to his own personal hell. His deprived and depressed outcome is in every respect completely consequential of his poorly executed, unethical decision-making kills (or total lack thereof) and his complete inability to care for anyone besides himself.
The end-all, be-all of his lack of morals is the fact that he knows he is being debaucheries and iniquitous and acting out of immoral decisions but he continues to do so. Clarence isn’t necessarily unintelligent; he simply possesses a mindset that proves to be corrupt and deprived of any real moral fibers. Due to these circumstances and consequences, he is doomed to live out the remainder of his depressing life with his story being the only concrete thing left he has to hold on to.