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The Absurd Hero in the Guest, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1398

Essay

When Balducci invaded Daru’s monastic attitude by telling him to deliver the Arab to prison, Daru was outraged to be involved and have the responsibility of another person’s fate. He cursed the system that forced him to complicity and the Arab who did not have the sense to run away. Daru attempted to avoid taking a stand; however, in the morning when the Arab had not run away, Daru made a package of food and money and passed them to the Arab (Camus 110). This shows that quiet heroism of Daru’s acts, by which he alienated himself from his people. These are some of the actions in ‘the guest’ that explain how Daru embodies what Camus refers to as an absurd hero.

The story the guest illustrates Camus’s moral, political and philosophical beliefs. The story examines Daru’s journey into a state of moral despair. Daru’s acts in the story are some of the factors that make Camus refer to him as an absurd hero. The first act is evident from his state of isolation. Daru accepted to work in the desert something that exposed him to loneliness. However, despite the poverty and hunger in the plateau he was grateful for the situation, as opposed to, the natives who lived in the plateau. This state of isolation depicted self-sufficiency in Daru’s character. He was capable of carrying on indefinitely provided his basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing were met. As Daru waited for the two men to arrive at the schoolhouse, his thoughts revealed some of the difficulties he experienced in the region. The inhospitable terrain that dominated the plateau illustrates the author’s notion of absurd. The universe was described as silent and indifferent towards humanity. The land is also described as not giving or forgiving, but cruel. These instances depict how Daru embodies what Camus refers to as an absurd hero (Bronner 139). This is because Camus attempts to create a representation of the absurd when he joins the extreme physical conditions that Daru chose because of self-determination.

Daru’s choice to accept the job in the barren plateau might have been motivated by his absurd heroic nature. This is because everybody normally needs to belong to a place. However, the cruel plateau embodies a home for him despite the desolate climate. This shows that despite being considered a hero by the French government, he does not have the chance to make choices. For Daru, the freedom to choose seems to be an obligation. He decides not to make choices for himself, therefore, falling a victim of ambiguity and cruelty of the universe. Daru is an absurd hero because he decided not to choose while all heroes are capable of making choices for themselves to retain their freedom (Bronner 140).

Daru is considered an absurd hero because he bowed to the desires of the French government when he accepted the teaching job in the lonely plateau. His heroic nature made him persevere even though he desired to teach in the foothills village, which had an ideal climate. Being a schoolmaster, he was also an agent of the French government. He taught native children about France, however, their families opposed the foreign rule. This also shows his nature as an absurd hero. This is because he only concentrated on the interests of the French government, but did not consider how the natives felt about foreign rule (Camus 107).

The other incident portraying Daru as an absurd hero is evident when the authorities ordered him to escort the Arab to the police station located in Tinguit. At this point, Daru chose to cooperate. However, he initially supported the acts of the French government. This decision to defy officialdom arose from his awakened awareness of himself. It is at this point that he begins to examine himself as an independent spirit. This is evident when Balducci tells him that he has always been a little crazy. He is seen as an absurd hero because he realizes that being a man and fully human, involves controlling his own destiny based on the dictates of his conscience. This depicts that the arbitrary mandates of the superiors and Balducci no longer hold sway. At this point, Daru realized that his life was meaningful only if he rebelled against the authorities and did what he thought was morally acceptable to him. This causes him to start a new life by treating the Arab humanly. These acts portray Daru as an absurd hero because he suddenly turns against the government by giving the Arab a chance to choose his destiny (Camus 108).

Daru is an absurd hero because he too was a prisoner of the French government. This is illustrated when the French authorities offered him a job in a barren environment. However, his absurd heroic nature causes him to accept the job willingly without any protest. It is later that he realized he was also a prisoner of the government. This realization makes him take a step towards freeing himself. It is at this point that he refuses to take the orders of escorting the Arab to Tinguit. Balducci tried to force Daru to take the Arab prisoner to jail. From the story, it is evident that he attempted to evade the simple choice, however, he was unable to do so (Hurley 79).

Daru’s inability to make decisions in the story also portrays him as an absurd hero. After being threatened by the Arab’s friends, he made efforts to try and let the Arab free. As he leads the prisoner to jail, instead of telling him he is free to go, Daru leaves him on the path and tells him to either go back to where he had come from or go to jail. To his surprise, the prisoner chooses to go to jail. Daru is an absurd hero because he knows that he has the power to take the Arab to prison or to let him free. However, instead of assuming the authority he gives it to the prisoner to decide (Hurley 79).

Forcing the prisoner into Daru’s care is another incident that portrays Daru as an absurd hero. This illustrates the unrequested and unwanted obligations that governments thrust upon individuals. This is evident when Balducci told him that he had to take the prisoner to the prisoner in Tinguit. This implies that people in power expected Daru to follow the orders he was given without any objection. He was a meaningless hero because if the government valued him, he would have been offered the chance to make choices. This same thing happens when he is sent to go and serve as a schoolteacher in the barren plateau. He was a meaningless hero because he had no say in this government (Hurley 80).

In the story, the prisoner also asked Daru to accompany him to Tinguit. In real sense, Daru never wanted to accompany the prisoner because he felt that his acts were already dishonorable. However, he reconsiders his decisions when the Arab asks him to come with him. This portrays his absurd heroic nature because he allowed himself to be manipulated by the prisoner. He should have thought about the consequences of getting involved in the Arabs fate.  Daru was a meaningless hero because, despite the realization that he did not have the power to judge another, he trusted the Arab believing that he would not have killed him. This act depicted his heroic nature because he gave the prisoner the chance to learn about humanity evident from how Daru treated him (Zaretsky 156).

The lack of human knowledge in Daru’s case also portrays him as an absurd hero. Despite his attempts to rescue the Arab prisoner, he did not know whether the Arab was supposed to be punished or released. Daru tried to glean information as to why Arab committed murder. However, the Arab continued to confuse him when he asked him question. If Daru were a true hero, he would have made the decision of turning the Arab to the police, instead of letting him go when he had committed a crime (Zaretsky 156).

Works Cited

Bronner, Stephen E. Camus: Portrait of a Moralist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Print.

Camus, Albert. The Guest. Mankato, Minn: Creative Education, 1990. Print.

Hurley, D.F. Looking for the Arab: reading the readings of Camus’s ‘The Guest’, Studies in Short Fiction, 30, 79-93, 1993.

Zaretsky, Robert. Albert Camus, Elements of a Life. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010. Print.

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