In the story " The Guest" by Albert Camus, how does the setting contribute to the story's theme?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the primary themes in "The Guest" is the chasm that exists as a separation between the French and Arab experiences.  In this novel, Camus seeks to define a middle ground where the two entities - colonizer and colonized, established and "other" - can meet.  The physical setting where Daru's home and school are located is "in the desert on a high plateau - an intermediate area that belongs to neither the plains nor the mountains" that symbolizes "the moral space that Daru wants to find between the French and the Arabs".

Another element of the setting which contributes to the theme of finding a center, common ground between two elements is the weather.  The action of the narrative takes place between two radically different meteorologic states.  The Algerian desert landscape is ordinarily hot and dry, but during the narrative a violent storm occurs, dropping the temperature and bringing a blanket of snow.  The storm transforms the landscape, softening it somewhat for awhile, then leaving it in a harsh, clear light, similar to the effect that his forced interaction with the Arab leaves Daru's life changed forever.