Character Differences and Morality

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In Albert Camus’ The Guest, there are three main characters: Daru the
schoolteacher, Balducci the policeman, and the Arab. These three characters all reveal differences that relate to one of the overall themes of the story: morality. In the story, Daru is the main character who has a hard time dealing with the concept of morality. Although there are many other themes that are prevalent to the story, morality is the major theme that each character can relate to because of their differences.

Daru is a schoolteacher who feels like he is in a state of isolation from the beginning of the story to the end. He is assigned to do a task by Balducci but once he hears what he has to do he is appalled and refuses to do it. Instead of doing what he has been assigned, Daru does the complete opposite. The actions that Daru presents throughout the story show that he isn’t sure of himself and that he is very insecure. Daru has trouble dealing with the concept of morality, and his actions send him into a state of moral anguish at the end of the story. Although at times it looks like Daru wants to do well, he ends up saying or doing the wrong thing. For example, as Balducci is leaving the schoolhouse, he orders Daru to watch the prisoner before they hand him over. Daru tells Balducci that he will not hand him over. “Listen, Balducci…every bit of this disgusts me and most of all your fellow here. But I won’t hand him over. Fight, yes, if I have to. But not that.” (p.5); this shows how Daru is given the opportunity to do what is right but ends up doing what is wrong.

While the prisoner stays with Daru, he feels very uncomfortable. Daru feels like the Arab wants to be friends with him, and Daru doesn’t want to be. This reveals that Daru is also self centered and that he doesn’t feel comfortable around strangers. Daru also starts to feel vulnerable because of what he said to Balducci before he left. Although Daru becomes upset with the Arab and doesn’t approve of the crime he has committed, he still believes that turning him in is a shameful thing to do. This shows that Daru may have a good side to him; one that cares about others and not just himself. Also shows how Daru has trouble dealing with morality. In the end, Daru cannot decide between what is right and what is wrong, which allows the Arab to choose his own fate and leaving Daru in a bind.

Balducci is the policeman. The readers of the story see Balducci as a leader. Balducci has known Daru for a long time, and considers Daru like a son to him. Balducci cares about Daru and is upset when he won’t do what he has been told to do. Unlike Daru, who has trouble grasping the concept of morality, Balducci does everything right and therefore has nothing to really worry about. The only thing that Balducci has to worry about is what will happen to the Arab, once he leaves him with Daru. Balducci follows everything that he is supposed to do, like bringing the prisoner to Daru and caring for him. Once Balducci hands the prisoner over to Daru, he leaves and heads back to El Almeur. “He looked at the Arab, motionless in the same spot, sniffed peevishly, and turned away toward the door. Good-by, son, he said…The door shut behind him.” (p.6) Balducci, leaving the prisoner in Daru’s hands, makes the reader wonder whether or not Balducci had an ulterior motive. And also why he left the Arab alone with just Daru? These actions of Balducci’s show that he may have wanted to give responsibility to Daru and have him see what it’s like caring for others and not just care for himself.

The Arab, who is the prisoner, is very shy and apprehensive throughout the story. Although he is given many opportunities to escape throughout the story, he doesn’t. This shows that he is loyal and wants to do the right thing. Daru asks the Arab many questions, but he is very vague in answering. The Arab wants to know what is going to happen to him, but doesn’t understand anything that Daru is asking him. He also wants to know if the gendarme, Balducci, will return. His actions throughout the story tell us that he is also concerned about his safety and what will happen to him. In the end, Daru lets the Arab go and sends him away with money and food. The Arab doesn’t know what to think about what Daru is telling him to do. This shows that the Arab is confused and that he may not be able to think for himself while he is on his own. At first he is hesitant but decides to go on ahead, with the things Daru gives him. The Arab walks on ahead and disappears. Now the Arab doesn’t know what to expect and doesn’t know what his future holds for him.


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