What does Balducci mean when he says that Daru has “always been a little cracked”?

When Balducci says that Daru has “always been a little cracked,” he means that Daru does not follow the official interpretation of events. He thinks for himself. He refuses to be frightened or take sides. To Balducci, this is crazy, for it seems out of touch with reality and can lead to danger and disaster.

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In Albert Camus's “The Guest,” Daru has refused to hand over the Arab prisoner to the authorities in Tinguit. He does not want to get involved with this affair, for he does not (apparently) think that the French should be taking such a role in Arab affairs. Balducci, however, leaves the prisoner with Daru anyway because he is determined to follow his own orders no matter what Daru chooses to do.

Balducci, however, is rather concerned about Daru's safety. He asks Daru if he is armed. Daru responds that he has his shotgun in his trunk, and Balducci says the weapon should be by Daru's bed. Daru replies, “Why? I have nothing to fear.”

At this point, Balducci calls Daru crazy and says that if there is an uprising, “no one is safe.” Daru responds that he can defend himself, and he will see them coming. Balducci merely laughs at this. “You have always been a little cracked,” he tells Daru. “That's why I like you, my son was like that.”

In Balducci's eyes, Daru's lack of fear and his adherence to his conscience are a bit crazy. Balducci holds firmly to the official view of the situation. He follows his orders. He fears what he is told to fear. He doesn't think much for himself. This is easy, and to Balducci, it seems normal and appropriate.

Daru, Balducci thinks, is out of touch with reality (at least reality as he sees it). Daru is not taking the situation seriously enough. He is not recognizing the danger or properly responding to it in Balducci's view. Therefore, Daru is “a little cracked.” His mind is not as it should be.

Balducci chuckles at Daru's idealism, and he takes a paternal stance toward him (after all, his own son was “a little cracked,” too). But Balducci also leaves his own revolver on Daru's desk. If Daru is going to be crazy, at least he will be well armed, Balducci thinks.

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