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Character analysis and life details of Daru in "The Guest" by Albert Camus


Daru, the protagonist in "The Guest" by Albert Camus, is a schoolteacher in a remote Algerian village. He is depicted as compassionate and morally conflicted, caught between his sense of duty and his personal beliefs. Daru's isolation is both physical, due to his location, and emotional, as he grapples with the ethical dilemma of delivering an Arab prisoner to authorities, ultimately leaving the decision to the prisoner himself.

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Provide a character analysis of Daru in "The Guest" by Albert Camus.

Daru is French and Algerian born. He knows of the French-Algerian conflict and that it is the result of French colonialism in Algeria. Darus is like one of Camus' existential characters and he recognizes the French/Arab conflict as a fight over land and people. One of the first reasons he gives for refusing to take the Arab to Tinguit is that he, a schoolteacher, has no place fighting or escorting a prisoner of war. 

"The orders? I'm not . . ." Daru hesitated, not wanting to hurt the old Corsican. "I mean, that's not my job." 

Daru does not want to partake in this war/culture clash, so he then asks what the Arab (still referred to by that nameless moniker "the Arab" - by the narrator) has done. Balducci replies that he's killed his cousin. Balducci is not even sure if this Arab man is against him or on their side. This makes Daru even more uncomfortable with taking the Arab as prisoner and shows how absurd Daru thinks Balducci's reasoning is: 

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

Daru does not think it is right or honorable to turn the Arab over. He thinks men like Balducci operate (as soldiers or nationalists) out of "rotten spite." Daru sympathizes with the prisoner and would rather let the man go than turn him in. However, he is conflicted with turning the Arab over in that it is his duty to do so. In the end, not knowing whether to do the right thing or his so-called duty, Daru offers the Arab two paths: one to the east and the police and one to the south where he will find shelter with nomads and perhaps, eventually his freedom. 

He lives like a monk, as a teacher, and he feels secure in this monastic lifestyle, feeling like an exile everywhere else. One reason Daru enjoys this monastic life is that he is removed from the cultural war between Algeria and France. He is therefore removed from colonialism in Algeria while still living amongst it. Daru, like Camus, was caught in this predicament: being sympathetic to those under colonization but with some loyalties to the colonizers. This is why he offered the Arab two options. 

Daru felt the cultural conflict was absurd and would probably have preferred if everyone lived like he did; having to answer only to himself. He felt guilty turning the Arab in but he also felt guilty for insulting the gendarme, Balducci: 

He could still hear the gendarme's farewell and, without knowing why, he felt strangely empty and vulnerable. 

Daru finds the entire situation (both sides of this conflict) to be absurd. Daru is annoyed by the Arab's crime and his own people (the French) for having created the situation (colonialism) in which he would even have to deliver a prisoner: 

And he cursed at one and the same time his own people who had sent him this Arab and the Arab too who had dared to kill and not managed to get away. 

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What is a character analysis of Daru from "The Guest" by Albert Camus?

Like Albert Camus himself, Daru is a Frenchman born in Algiers. Thus, he is a man somewhat divided; so, when the French gendarme leaves the Arab with him, Daru is ambivalent about what to do; moreover, he is angered that he should be placed in the position he has,

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

And so, he decides to let the Arab decide his fate for himself, returning honor to the man. But as they sleep in the same room in the night, Daru feels a strange sense of brotherhood with the Arab. Nevertheless, the next day, Daru sets him free, with money and food, only to see the Arab standing still. Finally the Arab surrenders his fate to others as he "walks slowly on the road to prison."

Daru's heart is heavy. He is disappointed that the man has not chosen to return to his own people, for the Arab has surrendered to others the determination of his fate. And, yet, Daru realizes, he was never free because the others in his village would punish him, anyway. Like himself, the Arab is also tormented by the allusion of free choice.

Similarly, Daru feels tormented by the illusion of free choice. "In this vast landscape he had loved so much, he was alone." There is an indifference to man's plight in nature, and in his aloneness, man's existence is absurd and really without any clear order or meaning.

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In "The Guest" by Albert Camus, what important details are given about Daru's life?

In "The Guest" by Albert Camus, Daru is a French-Algerian schoolmaster who has been charged with educating indigenous students according to colonial standards. The sparse details given about his isolated life are important because they serve as both the backdrop and motivation for his actions in the story.

Daru's Surroundings

Daru lives in a room attached to the schoolhouse where he works. Although his home is located in an area that is not particularly unforgiving, his students come from a nearby village that has been afflicted by a severe drought. The weather in this area is extreme, inflicting both drought and severe snowstorms at different times of the year. The harsh landscape is one of the most heavily detailed aspects of Daru's life, and it serves as a character in its own right. Like Daru, the schoolhouse is disconnected from the surrounding communities of the Algerians, the French military posts, and the nomadic tribes. It is this barren environment with which Daru forms a strange kinship, his only true emotional connection in the story.

Daru's Personality

Daru is a somber yet kind man who regularly distributes food rations to his students. He avoids commitment at nearly all costs and becomes resentful when Balducci conscripts him to escort an Arab prisoner to the authorities. Although Daru is French, he is not sympathetic to his government's efforts to colonize the region. He has long struggled to remain impartial in the conflict that surrounds him, but Balducci forces him to choose a side. Daru passes on this burden by allowing the prisoner to choose freedom or to turn himself in to the authorities. When the prisoner chooses to turn himself in, Daru watches in clear disappointment.

As the story progresses, we see that these details of Daru's life, in terms of his personality, his duty, and his surroundings, are reflections of themes presented in the overall narrative. Daru's circumstances are similar to those of the author, a French-Algerian man whose efforts to mediate between the Algerian separatists and the French government were met with frustration. All of the details in Daru's life serve to emphasize the fact that he is alone metaphorically and often physically. From his isolated home in the schoolhouse, Daru watches Balducci and the prisoner approach from the road with a sense of detachment that characterizes his actions throughout the tale. He does not feel any strong human bonds and, despite his altruism, he seems to have little stake in any aspect of life.

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