Many pieces of literature explore human nature and reactions to adversity. “The Guest”, by Albert Camus depicts three individuals faced with adversity. They must decide between following what is expected of them by law, and following their own convictions. An individual’s reactions to conflicting forces will help to develop character and personality traits.
Adverse circumstances faced by the character Daru help to reveal his inner most qualities and features. Albert Camus displays Daru as not only a man of loyalty, but one who maintains his moral convictions. Although unable to complete the duties of his position Daru remains at his post in the school house awaiting a new task. Daru’s actions show he is a loyal and obedient servant of his government. As such he is expected to follows the orders given to him by his superiors. “And you will deliver this fellow to Tinguit”.(pg 49) Daru is expected to follow orders and conform to the French ideal. Although loyal to France, he has a strong sense of morality. “That man’s stupid crime revolted him, but to hand him over was contrary to honor”. (pg 56) Daru holds true to his morals even though he may be held accountable for his disobedience. Like Daru Balducci is very loyal, but this loyalty often pushes aside his good judgment.
Balducci’s characteristics are introduced through his reactions to adverse conditions . Camus illustrates Balducci as a loyal yet cowardly man, who’s work often interferes with his morals. “Balducci painfully got down from his horse without letting go of the rope”. (pg 48) Although Balducci realizes that tying a rope around a man is against his morals he attempts to ignore his conscience. “I don’t like it either. You don’t get used to putting a rope on a man even after years of it and your even ashamed-yes, ashamed. But you can’t let them have their way”. (pg 51) Camus portrays a faint-hearted man who is afraid to admit that the ethics he lives by could be unjust. Although the Arab may not be guilty of treason Balducci is willing to execute him on the grounds that he could be a traitor. “Is he against us?” “I don’t think so but you can never be sure”. (pg 50) The French colonies see the Arabs as their enemy. Through each of Balducci’s reactions to conflict his character is further developed. Thus the greater the amount of adversity he encounters the more detailed his character becomes. The Arab is similar to Balducci in that he assumes the role of a coward when confronted with adversity.
Characters can be developed when they react to conflict, as well as when they do not. The Arab is characterized in his reluctance to react to adversity. “He was heading toward the door at the end of the room … a faint sound of water reached him … The Arab again stood framed in the door way, closed the door and came back to bed”. (pg 55) When given a perfect opportunity to escape he uses the washroom and goes back to sleep. When Daru asks the Arab why he killed, he simply states, “he ran away. I ran after him”. (pg 53) The man does not even want to acknowledge the fact that he killed a man. He gives as little detail as possible and refuses any further discussion. The Arab makes a conscious decision in every event to do as little as possible. When given the choice between freedom and prison the Arab selects prison instead of a fresh start. The Arab is either a man of great moral conscience or inconceivable sorrow. Camus successfully develops a character who is emotionally shattered.
The individual aspects of a character are developed by an authors use of conflict. Camus uses adverse situations to explore the inner most identities of Daru, Balducci, and the Arab in his short story, “The Guest”. The thoughts, feelings and intentions of a person are exposed when conflict arises.