Here’s this essay’s conclusion:
The loss of his moral imagination perhaps led him to the crime of murdering the Arab. Camus wishes to claim that the murder is absurd, but the fact of the matter is that Meursault’s entire life is absurd! Without a moral imagination, there is not much to life besides sensual pleasures, and a life of sensual indulgence stands as the most vacuous existence. So, I claim that the murder of the Arab was conducted to insert meaning into Meursault’s life: “I knew that I had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of the beach where I’d been happy. Then I fired four more times…it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.”1 But, does Meursault know what happiness is? His life is just a mix of work and play—unfulfilling work and uninspiring play. He merely knows that shooting the Arab interferes with the economic and sensual happiness which other people advised him to seek but did not fulfill any of his ambitions. So, shooting the Arab ought to be considered as Meursault’s search for meaning in his vacuous existence.
Things begin to change during his trial and imprisonment. People begin to look at Meursault in a different way, such as hatred, which make him feel like crying. Also, the fact that he is separated from all his sensual pleasures renders the imagination as the only way for him to enjoy them. In doing so, the imagination, that which allows the mind to perceive meaning, begins to function more normally. This leads to affection beginning to come into his descriptions:
In the darkness of my mobile prison I could make out one by one, as if from the depths of exhaustion, all the familiar sounds of the town I loved and of a certain time of day when I used to feel happy. The cries of the newspaper vendors in the already languid air, the last few birds in the square, the shouts of the sandwich sellers, the screech of the streetcars turning sharply through the upper town, and that hum in the sky before night engulfs the port: all this mapped out for me a route I knew so well before going to prison and which I now traveled blind.2
If only he had really loved this city before committing the murder, he would not now be in prison! But, he could not really love it due to the disconnect between his intellect and emotion caused by the loss of his imagination.
All this brings me to us to the last few sentences of the novel:
I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself— so like a brother really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there would be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.3
By saying that the world is like a brother in its indifference, I believe that Meursault sees the world as a fellow suffering from his own lack in imagination. This creates an emotional connection between himself and the world where there was none previously. He may even wish the people of the world to undergo his own experience of finding their imagination—the realization that life is not just matter and money.
However, this imagination cannot be called moral. The two arbiters of the moral imagination whom Meursault met after his arrest, the magistrate and the priest, were not capable of releasing Meursault from the limits of his material mind. Meursault probably needed more time to rise above sensualism. This is why Meursault wishes to be greeted by cries of hate. It was the hatred which people felt toward him which began to ignite his imagination, which for him is superior to the aura of indifference in which his prior existence was immersed. But, one wonders how much of an intellectual improvement it is to prefer hatred to indifference.