Why is the title ironic?  Why does "The Guest" make a better title than "The Prisoner"?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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On the surface, the title refers to the the Arabic prisoner. This "guest" is one that is thrust upon Daru against his will. Even though the Arab is a prisoner, Daru does not treat him with any hostility and even seems to welcome the idea of his escape. Daru awkwardly treats the Arab to coffee after spending a night fretting over the idea that the prisoner might kill him. The idea of death does not seem to bother him nearly as much as the idea of his life being spent to its end in the course a task that he did not even want. This paints a picture of the Arab not as a prisoner but as an unwanted guest whose host is doing his best to be polite. Amidst the overwhelming melancholy, it can be seen as rather humorous.

However, on a more existential level, "the guest" can be thought of as Daru himself. The war of which he wants no part, and by extension the Arab, could be seen as a Host. Daru is a simple schoolteacher. He cares not for the worry of the outside world. This is often met with some...

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