Symbolism: The specific location of Daru's home is symbolic of the colonial conflict in Algeria. He requested to be placed at the foothills, between the desert and the dark plateau. However, he was placed upon the plateau where he would be—a schoolmaster. In this symbol, the desert represents the Arabs and the plateau represents the French. He was placed upon the plateau, or in other words, he was forced to join up with the French (though he wanted to remain neutral, as was his character).
Irony: Balducci was the "bad guy" character in this story. Though he was callous and rude to the Arab prisoner, in the end he will just return to his post and live a normal life. On the other hand, Daru was the only person to treat the Arab kindly, and yet he will most likely die for "handing him over."
Daru, who frees the prisoner, only frees the prisoner to go back to supporting a society similar to the one that Daru is trying to disassociate himself from.
Foreshadowing: Frequently throughout the short story, the reader is given hints about that trouble which might come to Daru. The author says that the village was beginning to stir, and that was the reason for the transportation of the prisoner. Also, Daru hears sounds of footsteps around the schoolhouse, but nothing or no one materializes.