Much has been written about the French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960). He was, during his short time on the planet, neither a Christian nor an Atheist not even an agnostic. Yet in the absence of a god, he devised a belief based on the contradiction which he referred to as 'the human need for meaning and the unreasonable silence of the world.' This condition drove him to the conclusion that life was certainly absurd and the only opposition to it was revolt, freedom and an unconditionally passion for life itself. This opposition expressed itself so well in his writings from his unwavering commitment to life and the celebration of the body in L'Etranger (1942) to the revolt and abhorrence of any political system without morality as in La Peste (19470) and The Rebel (1951), to his themes of exile in those wonderfully crafted short stories, L'exil et le Royaume.(1957) and his own story, written in the rawness of his voice in a search of self-discovery, a victim of the colonisation in Algeria as much as the Arabs themselves ,in the absence of a father, wealth and happiness , in Le Premier Homme (1994) . Camus' themes are parables for our present age with their searing analysis of exile, the destructive power of political ideologies and the commitment for authenticity and revolt in serving truth and freedom for future generations

In dealing with 'The Fall' as one of Camus' short masterpieces on the theme of passive human avoidance, we have the most highly personal account of the evil located within the individual himself and within the very language he uses. Unlike the main character, Meursault in L'Etranger, who is pursued by a blind fate and involuntary kills an Arab, and is misunderstood by a hypocritical society, Jean-Baptiste Clamence,

The main character in 'The Fall, a judge-penitent, is guilty of a specific crime of passivity, morally immobile and unable to act. The central event is the scene of the bridge in which he does not act and into this inertia, Camus sinks his reader into the darkness of the human condition, offering no solutions or improvements. We are left therefore to make our own conclusions on not pre-judging others and to deal with evil within us all without recourse to any external deity and Camus declines to offer his usual nostalgic longing for his Mediterranean unity or his sense of 'measure' which he so values at the end of 'The Rebel'.

Some other interesting features in this novel are the ironic use of dialogue in the manner of a confession constructed as a narrative of 6 chapters and the many multiple meanings that Camus alludes to. Biblical and religious parallels are strewn about abundantly such as the story of the Original Sin, the fall of Satan and the human sufferings of Christ even to the very name of the main character which is an allusion to John the Baptist through the symbolism of water. 'La Chute' is unique among Camus' novels in that he makes consistent use of a religious vocabulary. The action takes place in Amsterdam chosen by Camus for its circular canals to represent the circular hell in which his main character inhabits and the bar 'Mexico City' for the exiled and the disinherited of the modern world .Into this world of uprooted people Jean- Baptiste Clamence conducts his confession; informing his visitor/listener of his early life as Parisian lawyer but having left Paris ,he confesses his profession as 'double' and that he too was a Saduccee, who as in the Bible, were members of a Jewish sect recruited to the aristocracy and refused to share anything with the poor. So Clamence admits that he refused to part with his riches to the poor. Then as his visitor decides to leave ,Clamence accompanies him telling him that he likes the Dutch people so wedged into a little space of houses and canals, circles of hell( a possible reference to Dante's 'Inferno') they are like him 'double' and the canals represent for Clamence, the 'circles of hell', places of imprisonment of 'no exit'. Before he leaves his visitor to his own 'refuge,' Clamence informs him that he never crosses a bridge at night ,since if someone should jump into the water ,either you follow suit to fish him out or you forsake him there 'and suppress a dive --–leaves one strangely aching.'

The second day, Clamence explains to his visitor/listener his profession as a well known lawyer in Paris, happy in the defence of noble causes, widows and orphans and the satisfaction on being on the right side of the bar and scorning judges in general .So Clamence summaries his 'successful' life in Paris until an incident in which the hear a sudden 'a laugh' behind him as he walked up the quays of the Left Bank .and on arriving home his reflection on the mirror was smiling at him as though it was 'double' in an attempt to show, or hide his own guilt or moral inaction.

By the third day, the character of Clamence, to his visitor/listener, is becoming more transparent, self-allusory in where his revels his vanity in his so-called Don Juan obsession with women. While self-depreciating about his physical make-up, a mixture between Fernandel and a Samurai, he had notorious powers of seduction. The incident cited here is becoming crucial to that moral choice that he hinted on the first day where he heard the cry of a young woman drowning in the Seine---'I was still listening as I stood motionless. Then, slowly, in the rain I went away I told no one'

This confession by Clamence is so well structured in the novel here as to implicate everyone in the moral choice of having the courage to take the hand of the drowning woman or not.

On day four, Clamence is in furious pursuit of the falsely coherent image he was once able to give himself. In him mirrors the basic duplicity of the human being and it is better to cover everything, judgement and esteem with a clock of ridicule .Clamence explains that his selfishness culminated in his generosities—presenting a harsh exterior but could never resist 'the offer of a glass or of a woman' He advertised his loyalty but didn't believe that there was a single person he loved which he eventually betrayed. Even death is ridiculed in which Clamence confesses his lies, not to God, but to a friend or a beloved woman. In a subtle derisory manner, Clamence belittles the mandatory use of human justice by writing pamphlets on 'Ode to the Police' and 'An Apotheosis of the Guillotine' and his irrepressible visits to the so-called humanitarian free-thinkers in their cafes.

In the next chapter, he continues his self-ridicule, to his visitor/listener 'a man like you'(or anybody) and then a crucial turn occurs when Clamence announces that absolute innocence is an impossibility thus incapable of falling in love and remaining chaste, Clamence embraces debauchery which he finds liberating because 'it creates no obligations ---in it you possess only yourself. It is a jungle without past or future, without any promise or any immediate penalty. He insists that 'en debauche' lives a separate life from the world--a world which transcends both fear and hope. When trying to seek a cure for his tubercular lungs, later on in the chapter, Clamence takes a trip on an ocean-liner only, on sighting a black spot on the sea, brings back the reality of the cry of the drowning woman on the Seine. This reinforces his sense of culpability. He must be punished, a 'malcomfort' Here, Camus intrigues the reader by citing one of the most brutal inventions of punishment for the guilty---the spitting cell. This is a walled –up box in which the prisoner can stand without moving. The solid door that locks him in his cement shell stops at chin-level. Hence only his face is visible and every passing jailer spits copiously on it. The prisoner, wedged into his cell, cannot wipe his face, though he is allowed, it is true, to close his eyes, and Clamence concludes ironically that in this human invention,' they didn't need God to create this little masterpiece.'

Clamence now decides that all men including Christ himself are guilty since He allowed the slaughter of the innocents, while his parents were taking him to a safe place. However, Clamence tells the visitor/listener that Christ is his friend since he cried aloud his agony and while he falls short of perfection he 'deserves our forgiveness'. In one of the most bitter and devastatingly ironical passages, Clamence remarks ' –since we are all judges, we are all guilty before one another, all Christs in our cheap way ,one by one crucified, always without knowing.....In solitude and when fatigued, one is inclined after all to take oneself for a prophet. When all is said and done that's really what I am, having taken refuge in a desert of stones, fogs and stagnant waters—an empty prophet for shabby times, Elijah without a messiah, stuffed with fever and alcohol, my back up against this mouldy door, my finger raised towards a threatening sky, showering imprecations on lawless men who cannot endure any judgement.' Christ's life for Clamence shows us the way of all flesh but declares that many arrive at the cross without passing through the 'kenosis' or self-emptying of all Christ's hate and selfishness to reveal only their own hypocrisy.

On the fifth day, Clamence, sick and in bed, receives his visitor/listener and evokes the time he spent as Pope of the prison camps as a kind of group leader or secretary of a cell. Here he is ridiculing the corrupt power of the church and by citing the example where he drank the water of a dying comrade since his life as Pope was precious and sacred,'I have a duty to keep myself alive---', we have the coupling of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the concentration camps which devalues the human dignity and self-esteem of man. As Clamence points out to his listener that empires and churches are born under the sun of death.

In chapter 6, the last part of the novel, Clamence asks this visitor/listener to open a cupboard that contains a panel from the Van Eyck altarpiece called 'The Adoration of the Lamb'. This panel had been stolen in1934 from the cathedral of Saint-Bavon in Ghent (Belgium)and had occupied a place on the walls of the 'Mexico-City' and then removed to Clamence's room. Here in the one panel in his room depicts 'The Just Judges ', the morally irreproachable judges on horseback who have come to admire the Mystic Lamb which stands in the central panel and who figures the innocence of Jesus Christ. Clamence exults in having separating justice from innocence .It is this separation that allows Clamence to exercise his duplicity as judge-penitent.

In fact the narration of ' The Fall' is circular like the canals of Amsterdam insofar that Clamence can relate his confession to his listener who can in turn invite another person to confess and so on.

'La Chute',as stated early, is unique in alluding to much Christian imagery in Camus' work. For example, the title alludes to the episode in Genesis where Adam and Eve are driven out of their earthly paradise and their fall from grace by giving in to the temptation of Satan. Likewise, Clamence' fall from when' he was held sway bathed in a light as of Eden' in a state of innocence, in his early days as a Parisian lawyer, to be driven from there when he hears the unknown woman falls from the bridge and later to discover his own duplicity. Also Clamence's 'falling' relates to the theme of laughter since laughter derives from the superiority of one person over another; to fall in front of one's fellows humans is to lose face, to cease being superior and to become the mere object of someone's else's amusement. It was Satan disguised as a serpent that caused the fall of mankind. Clamence in his ironic disguise will align himself with Satan in undermining innocence and separating it from justice. Yet even in the Christian allusion to his name St. John the Baptist the prophet, who in the Bible was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for Jesus Christ, through baptising and purifying him in water, Jean-Baptiste Clamence on the other hand is the 'prophete vide' with an emptiness of character in lacking the moral courage to take the 'jump' into the water to save the drowning woman from death. That plunge into the water to the Christian promises purification. Clamence refuges to take that plunge.

In writing 'La Chute', Camus has written one of his most demanding and complex work at the same time alluding to so many literary texts. However maybe its greatest strength lies in exposing and exemplifying the moral nullity of his own time and ours with his highly unusual sense of clarity, lucidity of perception and humane judgement.