The Guest

The Futility of Existence in Albert Camus's "L'hote"

"He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool" (Wyatt). As this quote by Albert Camus suggests, he was not a very optimistic writer. His gloomy look on life itself can be seen all too clearly in "The Guest". The story itself deals with Camus's idea of the futility of human existence: the only rational thing anyone can expect is death.

Camus's underlying philosophy is revealed from the very beginning of the story. The French title, "L'hote", translates to mean both "guest" and "host" simultaneously, which implies that the mutually respectful relationship between the main characters in the story should be applied to mankind everywhere. The story begins on an auspicious note with the introduction of Daru, a teacher who chooses to work in an isolated school in the Algerian desert to embrace an ascetic life. Daru is content with a simplistic, rural lifestyle. Undoubtedly, Camus wrote this story out of affection for his teacher, Jean Grenier. Without Grenier, Camus would never have developed his political and philosophical ideas. In the story, Daru is an idealistic teacher who believes in just causes and free will, and is most...

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