The Choice (The Guest)

For the first AP Lit assignment, we read Albert Camus’ short story, “The Guest.”  In short, the story is about a schoolmaster who is given custody over a murder convict, and instructed to bring him to a prison.  Feeling both anger at the crime and pity for the convict, he does not know what to do.

The main conflict in the story is whether the schoolteacher should hand over the convict or not.  He ultimately decides to let the convict himself decide:

Daru offered the package to him.  “Take it,” he said.  “There are dates, bread, sugar.  You can hold out for two days.  Here are a thousand francs too.”… “Now look,” the schoolmaster said as he pointed in the direction of the east, “there’s the way to Tinguit… at Tinguit are the administration and the police.  They are expecting you.”…”In a day’s walk from here you’ll find pasturlands and the first nomads.  They’ll take you in and shelter you according to their law.”… And in that slight haze, Daru, with a heavy heart, made out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prizon.

I felt that the climax of the story was intense, but also rather anticlimactic.  Daru, the schoolmaster, basically lets go of the conflict of the story by letting the arab decide his fate.  I think this is a pretty interesting point on the author’s part, because as a reader I was really excited to see what Daru would decide to do.  I feel like this ending did a few things.  First of all, it showed us a little bit about Daru’s character that could have been deduced earlier: He doesn’t like making big decisions.  From his request to work at a simple schoolhouse, to him telling Balducci that he didn’t know what to do with the Arab at the beginning of the chapter, to him not deciding whether he should get up or not during the middle of the night, pretty much the entire story pointed to the fact that Daru wasn’t big on choosing what to do.

Another big mystery this ending solved was what was the Arab’s true nature.  Although he is convicted of murder, he acts in an extremely docile manner during the entire story.  Part of Daru’s dilemma is he does not know what the peaceful convict will do next.  The ending where he himself chooses to go to prison to atone for his deeds, should have eased Daru’s nerves, at least a little.

-Paulie 😉

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5 thoughts on “The Choice (The Guest)

  1. I disagree with your view point. To me it seemed that Daru was very aware of what he was doing. He let the Arab go because although the Arab did commit a crime, for Daru turning the man in would be against his dignity. Second of all, I did have reasons to believe that Daru was against the French government in a way. This can be seen when he sets the man free and argues with his friend. In a way Daru is himself a slave of the system and that he no longer wants to be part of.

  2. I agree with Anna, and it was also something I was going to comment on. Although you make some great points, and I especially agree with your point about the climax being anticlimactic, I don’t think Daru “wasn’t big on choosing what to do.” While I agree that he seemed nervous thought the story, wouldn’t anyone be with a murderer in their house? Daru was firm about not taking the prisoner to the police and about serving dinner and things like that. The scene where Daru finished making the Arab’s bed and realised the only thing left to do was to look at the him was rather telling. He knew that by looking at him, and observing him, he’d have to make a decision.

  3. I also noticed how the schoolmaster felt angry and pity at the same time. I do not agree with the two above me because he was clearly torn between the decision and could bot sleep at night. The decision that he made left him feeling just as I would if I were confused and made a snap decision. I’m so extremely on your side because I know the exact feeling he has when you are torn between two outcomes.

  4. I disagree with what you said about Daru having to calm his nerves after the Arab made his choice to choose the other path away from prison. Due to the Arab’s action in the end it now affected Darus’ life in the end, “Behind him on the blackboard, among the winding French rivers, sprawled the clumsily chalked up words he had just read: You handed over our brother. You will pay for this” Daru looked at the sky, the plateau, and beyond, the invisible lands stretching all the way to the sea. In this vast landscape he had loved so much, he was alone” (p. 211) I also felt as if this was the climax, even though it was at the very end of the story although, it is also like a cliff hanger that left me on edge and wanting to know more.

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