en immediately as a contemplative man, who studies his surroundings, the vagaries of the climate, his predicament, and that of his students and their families. The reader realizes immediately that what is important about this character is not his actions, so much as his thoughts. Actions - if any - are the result of a decision, a choice. Even when he hands ‘the prisoner’ a glass of tea, or takes a pot of ink from a drawer, Daru does so not as a reflexive action, or one taken automatically or without consideration, but as a deliberately thought-out deed over which he seems to have some control.
This is a kind of irony that comes from the pen of Albert Camus, an existentialist (although he denied it) writer whose philosophy was one born of the belief that life offers no clarity or meaning (Camus 1991). He places Daru in a spot, literally and metaphorically. From this place, this man cannot emerge unless it is through a deliberate deed. True, he did not ask Balducci to arrive with the prisoner, yet even in the introduction during the blizzard, Camus injects an atmosphere of anticipation and expectation. He seems to tell the reader that life - even if it does take place in a desert; emotional, philosophical, or otherwise - has a habit of presenting one with predicaments and obligations that require accountability (Camus 1991). Daru, in his dead-end job, had to dole out grain to the families of his students, something over which he seemed to have doubts. He is suddenly given the responsibility of taking an Arab prisoner to the prison at Tinguit: a dilemma which is at once personal, official and philosophical. Camus does this to illustrate his concept of inescapability: if you are alive, you will encounter this kind of problem that requires some sort of choice. Not making a choice is not an option that life offers. Even doing nothing is a default choice. In his Myth of Sisyphus, he shows this through the absurdity of life’s meaningless tasks, that are repetitive ...
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