The Fall, a 1957 novel written by Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus, is a story based on confession. The main character, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, portrays himself to be the epitome of good citizenship and acceptable behavior and now he has come to face the reality that his existence has been deeply seated in hypocrisy. Clamence also openly enjoys the wealth of cheap dreams that the prostitutes and bars his Amsterdam home has to offer. In a bar called Mexico City, Clamence begins to recall his life as a respected lawyer, supposedly immune to judgment.
There are different theories on whether Clamence recalls his life to himself or to another person, but it is in fact a random acquaintance from the bar that Clamence shares stories of his life’s triumphs and failures. While Clamence is in the bar, he asks another person who is trying to order a drink if he may offer his services without running the risk of intruding because unless the man authorizes him to perform his services, the bartender will not guess that he wants gin. The service Clamence is referring to is his ability to speak Dutch, the only language the bartender speaks and understands.
What suggests that Clamence is speaking to another person in the bar is the fact that if someone wants to do something, they do not need to be given permission by himself. If a person feels they are not allowed to do something, it is because one of two reasons. One, the person might feel the action is inappropriate and that would directly deal with that persons set of morals and discipline. Secondly, the person might not be allowed to perform the task by the person it would deal with and that would have to do with power of authority.
Also, if Clamence was alone and tried to order the gin for himself, there is no reason for him needing help from some other person to order the drink if he is capable of communicating with the bartender. The second instance suggesting an acquaintance again happens in a bar when Clamence is invited to sit with the man he ordered the gin for. Clamence responds by saying Thank you, I”d accept if I were not sure of being a nuisance. You are too kind. Then I shall bring my glass over beside yours. Clamence can not be alone and talking to himself.
There is already a drink set down on the table and Clamence said he is going to set his drink next to it. Now if both the drinks were Clamence”s, then the drinks would both be his and that would leave no other drinks on the table. Since he said yours, that means that some other person has possession or ownership of that drink. A third instance of an acquaintance being present occurs when Clamence is talking about his experience’s while he was visiting Greece. Clamence later asks the question, By the way, do you know Greece? What should we do there, I ask you?
Clamence goes on to explain that in Greece the males are often found striding along the sidewalks, his fingers locked in those of his friend. Jokingly, Clamence asks , Would you take my hand in the streets of Paris? Clamence is indubitably with another person at this point. By asking what should we do, this implies that two people are present. If Clamence was by himself, the question should be asked from a first person point of view, what should I do. The second inquiry about joining hands is also directed towards another person.
If Clamence is directing the question towards himself, the same principals of ownership and possession need to be used. Later on in the story, Clamence has a secret that he reveals to his friend from the bar. Clamence says that the only relief he gets in life is from women and alcohol. “I’ll reveal this secret to you” he says and then instructs the person to make use of it as if it were a piece of advice. By Clamence calling his advice a secret, this serves as concrete evidence that another person is present. A secret is something that is concealed from others.
Clamence can not keep something concealed from his own knowledge, so in order to reveal a secret, another person assumed to have no knowledge of the information needs to be present. Towards the end of the story, Clamence develops a fever that he is treating with gin. At this point, someone goes to pay him a visit. Clamence states that he is embarrassed to be in bed when you arrive. This quote clearly states that Clamence is in one location and another person enters this place unexpectedly and catches him by surprise, thus causing the embarrassment of possibly an unkempt house or a unattractive personal appearance due to the sickness.
The reason why there are two people present is because Clamence says you which means he is addressing some one else. Although different theories on whether or not Clamence is alone when he recalls his life may exist, it is in fact an acquaintance that he shares his life with. In order for Camus” choice of wording that deal with ownership and possession and by definition of key words such as secret to be used in accordance with rules of proper grammar, another person must be present for the meaning of the words to be applied correctly.