The Guest | Study Guide

Albert Camus

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The Guest | Themes

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The themes of "The Guest" show through Daru's isolation and his strong sense of morality and freedom.

Isolation

Camus creates a sense of isolation for the reader through the harsh landscape and bad weather. Daru spends most of his time alone. Daru and the Arab prisoner can barely communicate due to a language barrier. After Balducci leaves they are the only two characters in the story. When nothing makes sense, it is difficult to communicate and even more difficult to connect. Yet the Arab prisoner seems to want a connection. He asks Daru, "Why are you eating with me?" and Daru replies, "I'm hungry." Daru is described as a solitary man and cannot be bothered to become the Arab prisoner's friend. The very presence of the Arab prisoner brings up questions of freedom and innocence that are too much for Daru to handle.

Morality

Camus makes the reader ask questions about morality that are left unanswered. Daru does not know if he does the right thing by leaving the Arab prisoner on the path or if he is responsible for the Arab prisoner once Balducci leaves him in Daru's care. Daru is part of the colonial occupation, and the Arab prisoner is an Arab Algerian whose land is being occupied. The Arab prisoner was arrested for murder which is according to French colonial law. That law surely differed greatly from the laws of the prisoner's village.

Does the Arab prisoner do the right thing by not escaping? It seems he is trying to do the honorable thing. It does not seem that he's guilty. He seems to believe that his innocence will be proven at some point. Daru knows better which is why he gives the Arab prisoner money and food to escape. As with all the other actions the characters take, we cannot be certain. Camus does not answer the questions he sets up in the story.

Freedom

Daru does not know if he wants the Arab prisoner to be free, or if he just wants to be free of the Arab prisoner so he can go back to his peaceful life. On the surface it seems Daru is driven by the latter, but he supplies the Arab prisoner with a thousand francs. It is a two-hour walk to the prison. It seems that Camus is making his strongest argument and strongest theme that life is nothing without freedom. Daru understands this. Despite being in the highly regimented organization of the military, he's in an outpost where he is free to make decisions to do as he pleases. He tries to give this same freedom to the Arab prisoner.

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