"The Guest" is a 1957 existential and absurdist short story written by famed Nobel Prize-winning writer and philosopher Albert Camus. In it, a French-Algerian schoolmaster named Daru gives an Arab prisoner an opportunity to escape a life of prison; he tells him to either choose to be free or live a life in captivity. In a surprising and unexpected turn of events, the prisoner decides to turn himself in to the police authorities in Tinguit, leaving a written message for Daru in which he tells him that he will be punished for his "betrayal."
The historical context of "The Guest" is actually very important, if one's intention is to completely understand the true meaning of the story. The plot takes place in the countryside of Northern Algeria, presumably a short amount of time before the outbreak of the violent Algerian War of Independence, which lasted six years, from 1954 to 1962. Unlike Balducci, the military police officer who was given the task of escorting the Arab prisoner to Tinguit and who believed that war was inevitable, Daru was very much against all sorts of conflict and wished to remain neutral. Daru's character is said to be an auto-portrait of Camus himself, as he too was French-Algerian and didn't want to "pick a side"; thus, he spent a significant amount of time before and during the war advocating for justice and a multicultural Algeria and even received some criticism for his philosophy and point of view.
Camus wanted to present the obvious cultural and political divide between those of European decent and those of Arab descent; he wanted to tell us that a multicultural, harmonious society was very much possible and that all of the unnecessary hatred that spread over both France and Algeria was absurd and pointless. Camus refused to take a stand and remained neutral to the very end of the war, when Algeria was proclaimed an independent country.