Professor R.M Stambaugh
24 February 2012
The embodiment of the absurd hero:
“Existence precedes essence” The only thing we can’t not do is not choose. The story of The Guest is about Daru, a lonely schoolteacher in Camus’ boyhood home of Algeria. Daru likes living in solitude, but he must learn to recognize that choices are unavoidable and that his choices matter. The story takes place in the middle of the nineteenth century when Algeria is still a land full of conflict between the oppressed Algerian people and their French colonial rulers. At the beginning of the story the French send the gendarme, Balducci 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, one to hand his guest over to the authorities and earn the hatred of the Algerian people, or two break free from the code of society and help him to go free, gaining him his own people’s disapproval. Although a controversy decision he takes a stand and tells Balducci that he refuses to turn his guest in. Choice is definitive of the nature of an individual. You don't know a person's choices until they make them. Therefore, our nature unfolds in the time of living our lives. 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 hero that is at the root of Camus’ philosophy. In a silent, meaningless world where the human is the only value, we see the absurd in the...