Why does Daru's behaviour towards firearms help reveal him? What is Camus's reason for making the Arab a murderer?

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Daru is disgusted by the Arab's act of violence, so we might conclude that Daru is dedicated to peace. This is a possible reason he refuses to get the gun in the middle of the night. Daru is French but had been born in Algeria. His official allegiance is with...

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Daru is disgusted by the Arab's act of violence, so we might conclude that Daru is dedicated to peace. This is a possible reason he refuses to get the gun in the middle of the night. Daru is French but had been born in Algeria. His official allegiance is with the French but his refusal to turn the Arab in indicates that he will not take a side in this situation. He feels part of both or torn between the two. And perhaps, in general, Daru doesn't want to take a side in the "us vs. them" of the French-Algerian struggle.

Given Camus' philosophy of Absurdism, we might conclude that Daru does not take a side in this sense because to do so is absurd or meaningless. Doing so simply means he continues to take part in an ongoing cycle of violence. Daru tries his best to do the compassionate thing, but he feels stuck in a meaningless situation:

Towns sprang up, flourished, then disappeared; men came by, loved one another or fought bitterly, then died. No one in this desert, neither he nor his guest mattered. And yet, outside this desert neither of them, Daru knew, could have really lived.

Daru is also conflicted with the Arab himself. He is appalled by the Arab's violent act, but will not turn him in. It's not so much that Daru supposes the Arab acted in self-defense or was somehow justified. I think that Daru doesn't turn the Arab in because he feels it is dishonorable. And given the absurdity of the "us vs. them" cycle of violence, Daru might not feel justified in judging or condemning the Arab, or anyone for that matter. So, why does Camus make the Arab a murderer? I think it is to illustrate Daru's conflict in another way. He is conflicted about the war and his place in it. Therefore, he is conflicted about how to treat the "enemy." (That is, if Daru would even use that term.)

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Daru is scared and intimidated by firearms. He has a shotgun but keeps it in his trunk instead of by his bedside, as the police officer recommends. Daru's being uncomfortable around guns indicates that he's basically a man of peace, someone who doesn't want to take sides in this increasingly bitter, bloody conflict.

That the killer is an Arab is important because it forces Daru to confront his hatred of guns and violence. The Arab is part of the resistance movement against French colonial rule. Daru may not care to take sides, but in the event of a full-scale uprising, he won't have much of a choice. In the character of Daru, Camus is showing us how colonialism can damage individuals; how it can corrupt their very souls, forcing them to do things they normally wouldn't do.

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Daru's behavior with regard to firearms suggests that they have no place in his life.  The narrator states that Daru has been to war, when he describes that the quiet on the plain after the war was hard for him to get used to.  So with experience of war, with the death and suffering, it is easy to see why Daru, a teacher, one who uses words and not a sword, would be repulsed by weapons.  He expresses his anger toward men and their need to fight and kill.  Daru will fight to survive, but violence, even the aggressive action of taking the Arab to jail, upsets him.

By making the Arab a murderer, Camus provides a valid reason, an extreme, for Daru to protect himself, but here we see again that Daru is not a man of violence.  He is happy with his lot in life, even in the midst of such hardship on the plain, in the middle of a drought.  He thinks not of an impending revolt, as Balducci suggests.  He thinks of his students and the harshness of their existence in this land he loves so much.

Logic tells us that if the Arab has killed someone, Daru might be in danger.   But Daru's refusal to carry the gun tells the reader how uncomfortable the weapons make him feel, how committed he is to a peaceful existence, and the strength of his conviction in his refusal to be swept up into a world where guns have a place.

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