The Guest

The Guest

Exploring Free Will and Decision Making in Albert Camus' short story "The Guest,"

In Albert Camus' short story "The Guest," Camus raises numerous philosophical questions. These are: does man have free will?, are an individual's decisions affected by what society demands, expects, neither, or both?, and finally, how does moral and social obligation affect decision making?

Balducci brings the Arab to Daru's door, informing Daru that "I have an order to deliver the prisoner and I'm doing so," (90) thus freeing Balducci of the responsibility over wherever the Arab ultimately ended up. Balducci didn't want the responsibility of the Arab possibly escaping, and by doing only as was expressly required of him (delivering the Arab to Daru's door and giving the orders of the Arab's destination to Daru), he was also setting the story so that any decision Daru later took was an act of Daru's alone and was not directly dependent on any other decision another man had made prior. Balducci avoids the social obligation he's supposed to feel. He should follow through on the prisoner's handling, but he doesn't have to. Balducci knows this, and decides to avoid the effort and instead justifies his leaving the Arab there by simply following his orders and not reading between the lines of the order.

Daru ended up accepting the Arab, both because the prisoner was delivered to him, and because he had a sense of responsibility to the French government (or society) to at least accept him, if not deliver him to the police in Tinguit (social obligation to not let him go free, justice must be served because if it wasn't, society would turn to chaos). Daru's orders were escort the Arab there for he was "expected at police headquarters" (88) because the Arab had killed a man, an obvious crime against society. Again, this is a concise plot device; if the Arab had robbed corn from a public field to feed his children, then Daru would have justification of not taking him to jail...

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