Morality in Camus’ “The Guest”

Camus, in “Revolution and  Repression in Algeria (1958), writes on the burden of his writing: his words could unknowingly serve as justification to radical commentary or to radical action, especially in the “drama of Algeria” (Camus wrote specifically on the struggle Algeria endured seeking independence from French colonialism). Camus denounces the elitism of ideology and separates himself from those who think “one’s brother must die rather than one’s principles.”

In “The Guest”, a man only referred to as “The Arab”, is arrested and brought to Daru, a local educator, by the Corsican policeman, Balducci. Balducci has been ordered and orders Daru to deliver The Arab to the police. Daru refuses, it is beyond his scope of duty (as a teacher) he says but, Balducci insists that in times of war, one’s duty is one’s country takes on new forms. This painfully reminds me of our current country’s dilemma with equipping teachers with firearms to protect children from school shootings. Is it truly the duty of a teacher to do this, even in the most dire of times? Daru still refuses, though he agrees to sign Balducci’s papers, which passes the responsibility of the prisoner onto Daru. Continue reading “Morality in Camus’ “The Guest””

Girl, Burning

She saw her own figure dancing in the flames

Arms raised behind her head, elbows pointed to the sky

Chin slowly pulled by the Devil’s string

She arched as if time didn’t exist.

Her forearms gentle suspended, resting in gravity

She raises them as one would course their limbs through water, heavy

But here there is nothing but air:

Who would have known that which gave life consumes it that much quicker?


She peers closer to see her own eyes gouged by the flames, pouring out the cavities like magicians’ scarves.

She touches her own cheeks and feels no wet, just flushed heat, her throat

Closing smoke curling, rising.

She touches her throat and longing for sound, opens her mouth but

Instead, a billow of ash vomits forth, her ribs heave and pushes out the sooty air

She touches her breast and closes her eyes; she holds herself and the Devil

calls her name LOOK AT ME!

She watches her own dancing figure in the flames

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