What is the narrative technique that Albert Camus used in his short story "The Guest"?
Albert Camus utilizes limited third-person narration throughout his short story "The Guest." A third-person limited narrator tells the story from only one person's point of view. Throughout the short story, Camus uses the third-person narrator to describe the thoughts of Danu, the school teacher. Third-person narration utilizes pronouns such as "he," "she," or "they." Camus writes,
"In contrast with such poverty, he who lived almost like a monk in his remote schoolhouse, nonetheless satisfied with the little he had and with the rough life, had felt like a lord with his whitewashed walls, his narrow couch, his unpainted shelves, his well, and his weekly provision of water and food" (2).
Throughout the story, Camus illustrates Danu's thoughts and feelings about following through with his undesirable task. In contrast, the feelings of the Arab man are never described, and the reader is left wondering why he chooses to turn himself in to the French authorities. Camus also employs irony throughout his short story. Danu is an honest, fair man who ends up with a similar fate as the Arab murderer. Camus' story represents alienation and the absurdity of life, which are common themes associated with existentialism.
The type of narration Camus uses in "The Guest" is called an interior monologue, which means that the only point of view the reader experiences is that of the main character. The Oxford Companion to English Literature (linked below) defines interior monologue as a form of first-person narrative in which the character's thoughts are "‘overheard’ by the reader without the intervention of a summarizing narrator." That is, we know what is happening in the story only through the main character's thoughts. Edgar Allan Poe used this style of narration in "The Tell-Tale Heart."