Why does Daru give the prisoner his freedom?

Daru gives the prisoner his freedom out of a sense of honor. According to the culture of the people among whom he lives, he cannot bring himself to turn in a man he feels a sense of brotherhood towards, even though the man's crime disgusts him.

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In the short story "The Guest" by Albert Camus, a police officer named Balducci brings an Arab prisoner to an isolated schoolhouse on a desert plateau and orders the schoolmaster, a man named Daru, to take the prisoner the rest of the way to prison and execution. Daru refuses to do it and eventually frees the prisoner, leaving the Arab to make his own decision. From the outset, Camus leaves no doubt about what Daru will do. When Balducci first gives Daru his orders, Camus writes,

Daru felt a sudden wrath against them all, against all men with their rotten spite, their tireless hates, their blood lust.

Daru tells Balducci that he "won't hand him over." Balducci eventually leaves the Arab at the schoolhouse anyway and goes back to his post. Daru treats the Arab with respect, as an equal, even though he doesn't approve of what the Arab has done. He resents having to make a decision in this situation, which is why he gives the Arab several opportunities to flee. Having the Arab sleeping in the room with him annoys him.

But it bothered him also by imposing on him a sort of brotherhood he knew well but refused to accept under the present circumstances.

Camus provides all of these details to emphasize Daru's steadfastness and determination not to turn in the prisoner. The inhabitants of the desert share a rough culture of mutual respect. As Camus points out:

That man's stupid crime revolted him, but to hand him over was contrary to honor. Merely thinking of it made him smart with humiliation.

We see, then, that though Daru lives in the midst of a harsh environment, it is mainly his sense of honor that causes him to free the Arab and let him go his own way.

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