The Hero of Albert Camus' The Guest Essay

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The Hero of Albert Camus' The Guest

Although some have called Albert Camus an existentialist, he never consented to the label. Still, he saw many things the way an existentialist sees them. Camus talks of humanity’s aloneness in the universe and their complete freedom and responsibility for their own lives, themes he pulls together with his idea of the absurd. Camus’ story The Guest powerfully expresses his thought on these prevailing ideas by his story and descriptions of an open landscape and solitary schoolhouse. In the midst of the vastness and solitude is Daru, the hero of an existentialist world who has stood up against the universe.

To be able to make sense of his characters, one must understand Camus’
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At the beginning of the story the French send the gendarme, Balducci, whom many consider an existential failure because he is ashamed of his profession but does nothing about it, to Daru with an Arab convicted of murder. Through Balducci the prisoner comes under the charge of Daru, who must choose whether to turn him over to the law or act according to his honor and let him go free. During the Arab’s overnight stay, Daru and his guest develop a bond that teaches Daru about the brotherhood of humankind and his equality with this prisoner, a criminal from a different race.

For an existentialist, Daru’s position is significant; before him lies a morally ambiguous situation and a dilemma he cannot escape. He faces two options: hand his guest over to the authorities and earn the hatred of the Algerian people, or break free from the code of society and help him to go free, gaining him his own people’s displeasure. He agonizes over the decision, but even near the beginning, when he tells Balducci he refuses to turn his guest in, we see a hint of his later choice. Once a bond develops between the two, guest and host, Daru decides to offer the choice to the prisoner.

Alone in a hostile world, Daru illustrates the idea of the absurd that is at the root of Camus’ philosophy. Absurdity, the relationship of man versus the universe, refers,

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