What is the central conflict in “The Guest”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In "The Guest" by Albert Camus, the central conflict revolves around the protagonist, Daru, who is torn between his duties as a French-Algerian schoolteacher and his moral obligation to offer protection to an Arab prisoner. The story is set in Algeria during the colonial period, where Daru is assigned to transport the prisoner to a police station. However, he is faced with a dilemma when the prisoner refuses to go to the police station, knowing he will face a death sentence. Daru's internal conflict between his sense of duty and his moral compass is the central conflict in the story.
Detailed answer:

In "The Guest," the central conflict revolves around the character of Daru, a schoolteacher living in a remote area of Algeria. Daru is caught between two conflicting allegiances: his loyalty to his country, which requires him to deliver an Arab prisoner to the French authorities, and his sympathy for the prisoner, who he believes is innocent and would be executed if handed over.

The conflict is illustrated by Daru's internal struggle and his conversations with the prisoner. Daru is torn between his desire to be fair and impartial and his concern for the prisoner's welfare. He also faces pressure from his fellow countrymen, who view his actions as a betrayal of his duty.

One of the most memorable quotes in the story is when Daru says to the prisoner, "I am not judge here. I am only the one who is obliged to carry out orders." This statement underscores the conflict he faces and the difficult decision he must make.

Additionally, the story highlights the larger conflict between France and Algeria and the tension between the French colonial authorities and the native Algerians. This conflict is depicted through the different characters' perspectives and their reactions to the situation.

Overall, the central conflict in "The Guest" is the internal struggle Daru faces as he grapples with the conflicting demands of his loyalty to his country and his compassion for the prisoner. The story raises important questions about justice, duty, and the nature of individual responsibility in a larger societal conflict.

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