Why does Daru feel empty and vulnerable?

Daru feels empty and vulnerable because he has broken off his friendship with Balducci by refusing to follow orders and turn over the prisoner. Daru has lost a human connection that he had previously retained even in his isolation, and he now has to rely fully on himself and face the consequences of his decision.

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In Albert Camus's “The Guest ,” Balducci brings Daru an Arab prisoner and the orders that Daru is to deliver him to the authorities in Tinguit. Daru respectfully but firmly declines. Such is not his job, he tells Balducci. He will not get involved in this affair. Balducci...

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In Albert Camus's “The Guest,” Balducci brings Daru an Arab prisoner and the orders that Daru is to deliver him to the authorities in Tinguit. Daru respectfully but firmly declines. Such is not his job, he tells Balducci. He will not get involved in this affair. Balducci leaves the prisoner with Daru anyway and goes off, insulted by what he sees as Daru's stubbornness.

Daru feeds the prisoner and gives him a place to sleep for the night. In the morning, Daru goes outside and looks across the plateau. He thinks about Balducci, knowing that he has hurt his old friend by sending him away in such a manner as to suggest that he doesn't “want to be associated with him” any longer. At this point, Daru feels “strangely empty and vulnerable,” but he does not understand why.

Daru is actually feeling the disconnect that has occurred in his life. While he has long been alone out in the isolated schoolhouse, he has, apparently, retained some connections with people like Balducci. Now, however, that connection is broken. Daru is more alone then ever as the result of his decision to follow his conscience rather than the official orders. This makes Daru feel empty because he has lost a friend, an ally, a connection that he has held on to even in his isolated life. It also makes him feel vulnerable because now he has no one to rely on other than himself. What's more, if the prisoner fails to show up in Tinguit, Daru may have to face further consequences from his decision, including punishment for not following orders.

Yet Daru continues to follow his conscience. He will not turn over the prisoner. Rather, he allows the prisoner to follow his own conscience and make his own decision about whether or not to turn himself in.

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