The Guest

The Guest Essay Questions

  1. 1

    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?

  2. 2

    Why is Daru so conflicted about turning in the Arab? Describe the moral dilemma at the heart of the story and argue for or against turning the Arab in.

  3. 3

    How does Daru change over the course of the narrative? Is he morally conflicted at the story's beginning? How does his sense of the plateau change?

  4. 4

    Discuss the title of the narrative. Who is "the guest" in the story? Can Daru be understood as a European "guest" in Algeria? How does Daru's hospitality toward the Arab influence his moral attitude toward him.

  5. 5

    Jean- Paul Sartre once said about Camus: "I would call his pessimism 'solar' if you remember how much black there is in the sun." Is The Guest a pessimistic work? Does Camus see pessimism as the inevitable portion of humankind? Is redemption possible in The Guest?

  6. 6

    What should a reader take from the message written on the blackboard? What do you think this message means to Daru? Do you feel that Daru wrote it himself, or did someone else write it? How important is it that Camus leaves the message so ambiguous?

  7. 7

    What do you make of the accusations aimed at the Arab? Do the others in the story presume that he is guilty? Do they care? Do we receive any explanation for why the Arab must be tried according to European justice?

  8. 8

    Compare and contrast the characters of Daru and Balducci. Do they have conflicting senses of duty? Note their respective ages, their respective social roles, their respective occupations. Why does Balducci call Daru "son"?

  9. 9

    Discuss the idea of freedom within context of the narrative events. Does Daru's decision to allow the Arab freedom of choice count as a "free" decision for Daru? Does freedom lead to happiness? Is freedom even possible within the world of The Guest?

  10. 10

    Camus once said, "The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world." How does this quote apply to The Guest? Discuss the landscape, the events, and the conversation in the story in the context of Camus' concept of absurdity.

  11. 11

    Why isn't the Arab given a name? Does he represent the Arab population of Algeria as a whole? Is his individual identity important to the story?