Discuss the imagery of the landscape in The Guest. How does this imagery inform the struggle in the story? How does it relate to Camus' philosophy as a whole?
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This is one of my favourite short stories. This is a story about isolation, alienation and belonging. The harsh mountainous Algerian landscape echo Daru's internal struggles. The landscape is at once beautiful and desolate, liberating and imprisoning. Daru is a man filled with empty spaces. He is a native Frenchman but feels exhaled everywhere else but Algeria. To the average Arab he is simply the occupier, the infidel that must be driven out or killed. As Daru watches Balducci and his prisoner ascend the hill, Daru seems to feel the "vast expanse of the high, deserted plateau." Daru's internal emptiness is magnified by his physical viewpoint of the horizon, "In clear weather could be seen the purple mass of the mountain range where the gap opened onto the desert." Although Daru tries desperately to appease his position in Arab culture, he simply can't. Daru's decision to let the Arab prisoner chose his own way merely intensifies his feelings of otherness. As the gap between himself and the Arab walking away expands, so does Daru's cultural identity. Camus's very cruel but essential truth echoes the devisions reflected in the landscape. Camus's last lines of the story seem to bring Daru's issues with cultural identity into sad focus,
["You handed over our brother. You will pay for this." Daru looked at the sky, the plateau and beyond the invisible lands stretching all the way to the sea. In this vast landscape he had loved so much, he was alone.]
I meant exiled not "exhaled" in sentence six.