In Camus' "The Guest," the Arab had an opportunity to escape Daru's custody during the night. In your opinion, why did the Arab remain?

1 Answer | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Camus' writings may often offer the reader food for thought—even "food" that perplexes. "The Guest" is no exception. 

There are several times in the story that Daru, the schoolmaster, hopes that the Arab will slip away—during the night as Daru struggles to sleep, he hopes the Arab has escaped, but finds he has only used the "bathroom" and has returned.

...when the Arab stirred slightly, the schoolmaster was still not asleep. When the prisoner made a second move, he stiffened...The Arab was lifting himself slowly on his arms with almost the motion of a sleepwalker...he waited motionless without turning his head to Daru..the prisoner...put his feet on the ground...then began to slowly stand up...He was heading toward the door at the end of the room that opened into the shed...A faint sound of water reached [Daru], and he didn't know what it was until the Arab again stood framed in the doorway, closed the door carefully, and came back to bed without a sound...

Again, as Daru takes the Arab out to deliver him to the authorities, the Arab again does not try to flee. Daru gives him provisions and money and a choice: to go to the police in Tinguit, or move in the opposite direction where tribes ("nomads") will take him in a protect him. When Daru turns, he finds that the Arab is walking toward the police station. 

The rock-fields to the south stood out sharply against the blue sky, but on the plain to the east a steamy heat was already rising. And in that slight haze, Daru, with heavy heart, made out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prison.

In recent years, critics have allowed that the Arab, while originally seen as an unsophisticated, uneducated, and violent man, may well have been governed by his faith, something many readers at that time may have been unaware of. Whether the man was an Arab Christian or followed the Qur'an, killing is a sin. According to the Qur'an, punishment lies in the hands of Muhammad.

The Qur'an states:

Anyone who kills a believer intentionally will have his reward in hell, to remain there. God will be angry with him and curse him, and prepare awful torment for him. Islam. Qur'an 4.92

The Christian faith, including Catholicism, wavers between the question of whether it is lawful to take one's life for the crime of murder. In the past, the Old Testament allowed "an eye for an eye," but some believe that capital punishment is inappropriate, citing the manner of the death of Christ. Even Pope John Paul II felt capital punishment was necessary only in rare cases.

If the Arab was a man of faith, we can infer that he believed that he had done wrong. With this in mind, I believe we can also assume that he chose not to escape, and moreover, chose to turn himself in to the police because he felt he deserved to be punished. We can assume he was also not afraid to assume the responsibility for his action, for he at no point tried to make an escape...perhaps having resigned himself to his fate.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,990 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question