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Irony In "The Guest" Essay

977 words - 4 pages

In "The Guest" Albert Camus uses irony to convey the existential theme of making what you believe to be the moral choice regardless of the consequences. This theme reflects Camus' existential philosophies, stressing free choice and responsibility for one's actions in addition to the inevitability of death. This philosophy plays a major role in the theme and structure of this story, and stresses the individual's unique position as a self determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices. In the short story, Daru has several choices to make. He can either deliver the Arab to prison, obeying the government's orders but angering and isolating himself from his community, or he has the choice to set the Arab free, pleasing his community but going against the orders of his government. Both of these choices will most likely result in Daru feeling guilt and angst. However, not making a choice is also an option for Daru. He could allow the Arab to make the choice for himself resulting in, theoretically, no angst and no conflict. The irony within the story lies within these choices and the choice Daru ultimately makes.There are three ironies of situation. The first one occurs when Daru makes his decision. He gives the Arab money and food, and opts to allow the Arab choose his ownMontgomery 2fate, giving him two choices: "Now look," the schoolmaster said as he pointed in the direction of the east, "there's the way to Tinguit. You have a two-hour walk. At Tinguit you'll find the administration and the police. They are expecting you." The Arab looked toward the east, still holding the package and the money against his chest. Daru took his elbow and turned him rather roughly toward the south. At the foot of the height on which they stood could be seen a faint path. "That's the trail across the plateau. In a day's walk from here you'll find pasturelands and the first nomads. They'll take you in and shelter you according to their law." The prisoner, reflecting existential values and realizing that he will eventually die anyway, morally chooses to go to prison and pay for his crime of murder. The irony is that Daru expected the prisoner to choose freedom. In Daru's mind, this would have meant that Daru carried out his orders, in a sense, while at the same time leaving the Arab unharmed and allowing him to return to the village. Daru would then have avoided the consequences of angering his government and also the consequences of angering his community. However, Daru's expectations did not correspond with the actual consequence, and this is irony. The prisoner chose to go to prison, rather than obtain freedom. In the prisoners mind, he knew he could not escape justice and death, and so made the most moral choice, not because he was forced to do so, but because it was right.The second situational irony occurs after Daru permits the Arab to...

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