The title in French is "L'Hote," which means both the "The Guest" and "The Host." How does this ambiguity reflect on the story?

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Although the story is known in English as "The Guest ," the alternative title of "The Host" is also appropriate, since Daru is a considerate host to the Arab prisoner and is himself a guest of the French government in the post of schoolmaster of the desert region. Daru...

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Although the story is known in English as "The Guest," the alternative title of "The Host" is also appropriate, since Daru is a considerate host to the Arab prisoner and is himself a guest of the French government in the post of schoolmaster of the desert region. Daru amicably caters to Balducci and the prisoner when they enter the schoolhouse, but upon receiving Balducci's orders, he ends the exchange in a disagreeable manner, expressing his intent to defy orders to deliver the man to Tinguit. Daru extends kindness to the Arab prisoner throughout the story, hosting him comfortably as an overnight guest before depositing him in the middle of the desert the following day with directions to either prison or a new life.

Despite the availability of freedom, the Arab man chooses to take the road to prison, most likely out of a deep commitment to honor. After having treated the prisoner respectfully, defying military orders out of his own personal code of honor, Daru receives a threat from the prisoner's allies, who assume he delivered the man to Tinguit as requested. Both Daru and the Arab prisoner ultimately have their futures altered by French military involvement; these unwilling guests are at the mercy of a powerful, uncaring host with concerns far removed from their well-being.

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In many ways, this story is both about the guest and the host.  Readers are drawn to the struggle of Daru to keep a man imprisoned that he feels should be released.  They are also drawn to the struggle of the Arab and the confusion as to why the Arab committed the act of violence he is accused off.  In addition, Algeria was "host" to the French - the invading force - and yet the French take over the role of host and treat the Algerians as guests, visitors in their own country. 

Besides these paradoxes, ambiguity plays a more general role in the story.  Daru is ambiguous and uncommittal about the war that is to happen.  He sympathizes with the Arabs, and feels no overwhelming patriotism to the French.  He does not war to happen because he does not want to have to choose sides.  Furthermore, the unclear nature of the Arabs violence lends ambiguity to the story.  Not only does Camus withhold details from us, but the Arab himself gives an answer that provides no answer: "He ran away. I ran after him."  Daru and the readers both are still asking "why?"

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