The Guest

May 14, 2008
By Brittany Howe, Braintree, MA

The Guest by Albert Camus is a short story written about a school teacher name Daru who is in charge of watching over an Arab prisoner for the night. In this story we only know the prisoner as the Arab, he has no name, we only know that he has killed someone and that is why he is on his way to jail. At the end of this story Daru gives the prisoner a chance to run. The reason why he gave him the chance and why the Arab didn’t take the opportunity is up for interpretation.
Through out this short story we learn about Daru and that he did not like the idea of watching over the prisoner. It can make you wonder if the reason that he gave the Arab the chance to go was because he did not feel like watching him or if he realized he deserved another chance at his life. In the story a man named Balducci comes to deliver the Arab to Daru, and Daru says “that’s not my job”. It is hard to know wither or not Daru just wants to get rid of the prisoner. In one scene the Arab and Daru are talking before they eat and go to bed. Daru asks him “Are you sorry?” and the Arab just turns his head. It seems that the Arab is not sorry or does not want to show the weakness of his guilt. I do not think that Daru is giving the Arab the chance to leave because he feels like he is guilty. I think that he is doing it so he does not have to watch over him. Especially since in one scene Daru lets the Arab leave in the middle of the night with out stopping him. He just lays there. I think that Daru just did not want the responsibility.
Daru thinks that the Arab is not guilty and he does not care whether he goes to prison or not. Daru is a quiet person he likes to be alone. A few times in the story he mentions that he feels vulnerable while the Arab is there. For example, when he is going to sleep, normally he sleeps naked; he decides not to, he feels too weak with the Arab there. Daru did not like that the Arab made him feel that way. The fact that the Arab is only known as the Arab and not by a name says enough. It says that he is not important enough to know the details of his life. He is just there because he killed someone and he is paying for it. It makes him seem less human in a way that he is not important enough to know more then his heritage and the reason why he is in prison.
The only logical reason I can think to let the Arab leave is because it was a test to see if he was at fault. Therefore if the Arab had chosen to leave instead of go to prison he would have shown that he felt no remorse for what he did. Daru turns around to see that the Arab is on his way down the road to prison and he is shocked. I think that the Arab decided not to leave because he was starting to feel blameworthy. It could be that he is guilty for killing someone or maybe that he is guilty for making Daru thinks he should have another chance. Either way the Arab does the unexpected and walks his self to prison.

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