Language and Symbolism in The Guest

This paper is a review of “The Guest” by Albert Camus.

This paper looks at the different characters in Camus’ short story The Guest in order to illustrate his use of language and symbolism. This use of symbolism is central to the understanding of the story and the message that Camus was attempting to convey. The school master’s survival instinct is drawn from Camus’ own experiences, as is the Arab rebel, the guest, who like Camus has never really fit into society and must wander in order to find solace. The sterile schoolhouse is also representative of Camus’ solitary life, like that of Daru, who has always felt different and separate from other members of society. According to the author, the unlikely friendship that grows between these two people, and the generosity that the solitary Daru is able to bestow upon this unlikely guest is the moral of the story and message that Camus intended to deliver to the reader.
“A third symbol is the hillside itself where the school stands. This is Camus’ solitary, separate, cold and cruel habitation. It is something he hates and loves at the same time. The coarseness of the rocks, the desert’s aridity, the vast expanse that forebodes “an eternal summer” of void and helplessness is his home. He has been in it for a year, which is long enough and slow enough to come into grips with all the features of his exile into it, “a solitary expanse(which) had no connection with man” He loves it perhaps because he has established comradeship with his function as a schoolmaster and identification with the physical space. Daru has also reached a level of acceptance of what fate brings him without losing himself with what he loses.”