In The Guest, Albert Camus uses a unique philosophy to pass information to the reader. Camus communicates the confinement that human beings experience at heart with an idea of folly and a sense of moral perplexity. He stresses on the responsibility of people throughout the narrative while at the same time acknowledging the purposefulness of life. For centuries, people in the western society believed that human beings make sense of the world by being brought up in a community (Shurgot 77). However, Camus changes this perception by embracing the absurdity of life with the idea that things should always have a meaning and the only universal values are life and freedom. Thus a person should always live keeping in mind that life and liberty must be preserved at all costs and it portrays the natural end of humanity.
The style of the story is tightly drawn, concise and denuded of undesirables. All that the reader can do is embrace the truth and make the story to its meaning. The title The Guest communicates something to the reader, obscurity, which sets the platform for various reversals, displacements, and contraventions. For instance, from the start of the narrative to the end, two characters keep exchanging roles unexpectedly. Camus (2) indicates that Daru is a proprietor to the Arab but a visitor in the homeland of Arabs, making the Daru in Arab a host. Received by Daru as an inmate, the Arab is given freedom and made his host; he is accepted by being given hospitality. Though he is gracious when playing the role of a host, Daru is handled at the very least, an unwanted guest and at the end of the narrative, he is damned to absolute seclusion.
Camus describes loneliness and quarantine which prepares the reader on the theme of estrangement. Daru is all alone on top of the mountain with the steep and rocky ascent. Snow had suddenly fallen in mid-October after eight months of drought, without the transition of rain, students scattered over the plateau had stopped coming (Camus 1). Daru experiences difficulties in communication. He is far from the society; he does not have a mode of transportation and has no contact with his relatives, colleagues or friends. The only people around him are his students who only came back after the severe drought. The only acquaintance is the military. Although his loneliness Camus (3) indicates that Daru has accepted his living conditions and he feels at home within the empty frigid classrooms, Daru now heated only the single room that was lodging, adjoining the classroom and giving also onto the plateau to the east. (Camus 1) and his room which makes him feel at home. However, at the end of the narrative, due to his fate with the Arabs, he has been disconnected from himself. The isolation of Daru as depicted by Camus has a symbolic meaning of the writing on the blackboard that Daru wrote. It is a representation of despair and alienation from self. The fact that Daru betrayed his principles by allowing the Arabs to decide punishment; it shows how humans fail to use their liberty to judge. The theme indicates some of the isolation from human understanding.
The center stage of the narrative is freedom. It lies at the core of The Guest, and it is inherently linked to the human right to decide a course of action. Freedom brings meaning to life. Daru living in the Plateau area is a choice that was cultivated with what Camus would call as absurd (Camus 4). Any human being needs to have a sense of belonging, and the cruel plateau region is an embodiment of the type of home for Daru despite the desolate climate. In the beginning, the solitude and the silence had been hard for him on these wastelands peopled only by stones (Camus 5). In this context, Camus meant that humans should always make a home for themselves within a fundamentally uncaring universe. The way one makes the place he or she chooses to be a home depends on the individual choices. Consequently, the liberty to choose is intricately a responsibility. Camus (6) states that Daru tried to pass along his obligation but ended up in turning himself in, and he suffers for it. He would have made a decision, one way or the other and hold on to it to avoid ambiguity. When a person decides not to choose, they become victims of cruelty and uncertainty of the world. Indeed, one cannot decide not to pick; one must choose to retain freedom.
The Guest is an incredible story that helps humans understand Camuss communication of isolation, freedom, absurdity and the value for life that humans experience at heart. The concepts are shown through the story. That is, in the characters of Daru, Arab and their relationship. If people cannot communicate on one level, it is difficult to express their freedom. Camus is clear on this idea. Almost each line of the story underlines it; the steep mountain, the cruelty, the barren plateau and the themes. Thus, from the evils of human nature, it is easy to find comfort. Nature is the sense of the universe, and it is not unkind to human. Nature is indifferent.
Camus, Albert. The guest. CUP, 1972.
Shurgot, Michael W. "Tracks in the Snow: Irony and Betrayal in Camus's The Guest." Journal of Literary Studies 32.4 (2016): 76-88.
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