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Sitting The Fence Essay, Research Paper

Sitting the Fence

Daru is a man of mixed heritage that is happiest living away from the conflicting sides that pull at him constantly. One side wants him to be this and the other wants him to be that. After the war, he has chosen to isolate himself so that he can avoid choices that cause him pain. Daru is satisfied with his life until an unexpected guest arrives. Daru refuses to make a choice by doing so he feels that he will not be faced with the consequences that arrive from choice.

Daru has managed to maintain neutrality by keeping himself isolated. Daru makes an effort to move away from people so that he will not be divided about his loyalties. ?He had requested a post in the little town at the base of the foothills separating the upper plateaus from the desert? (Camus 117). The place of his birth, knowing that scant peoples live or travel through the area. He has made a few acquaintances with those that work and travel this isolated area; he is respected for being an honest man. The gendarme Balducci arrives one afternoon bringing with him a government prisoner. ?The schoolmaster was watching the two men climb towards him? (Camus 113). Daru is disjointed at the sight of the French gendarme leading a tied Arab prisoner into his schoolhouse. As Daru and Balducci discuss the Arab he asks for him to be untied. His crime is horrible and it makes Daru hate all men at that moment. Balducci than informs Daru that he has orders to leave the Arab with him, telling Daru what he is to do with him. ??The orders? I?m not ?? Daru hesitated, not wanting to hurt the old Corsican. ?I mean, that?s not my job.?? (Camus 115). At this point Daru is surprised; he tries to avoid a conflict. Daru tells Balducci that he does not want this responsibility. ?Then I?ll wait for the declaration of war? (Camus 115). Daru is pointing out that he is a civilian and until there is a war he wants no part in this affair. Balducci is upset with Daru, they are arguing about the prisoner. ?I have an order to deliver the prisoner and I?m doing so.? (Camus 117). Daru resigns himself finally giving into Balducci to avoid anymore conflict.

? And now you?ll just sign this paper for me.? ?There?s no need. I?ll not deny that you left him with me.? ?Don?t be mean with me. I know you?ll tell the truth. You?re from hereabouts and you are a man. But you must sign that?s the rule.? Daru ? signed (Camus 117).

Daru hates the idea of having to choose. The government that provides Daru with a living wants to punish the Arab, but this interferes with his personal need to remain neutral. He gives the Arab a chance to escape after the gendarme has left by returning to his room and leaving his guest alone. ?He is amazed at the unmixed joy he derived from the mere thought that the Arab might have fled and that he would be alone with no decision to make? (Camus 117). When Daru final forces himself to go and check he is dismayed to find the Arab still waiting for him. ?He had merely stretched out between the stove and the desk? (Camus 117). Daru makes a choice to bring the Arab into his room and provide him with some comfort and food. After they have eaten Daru prepares a bed for his guest they than pretend to go to sleep. During the night as Daru quietly watches from his bed the Arab rises and goes quietly outside. ??He is running away?, he merely though. ?Good riddance!?? (Camus 119). Daru is happy at the thought that he is escaping; he will no longer be responsible for this man. Daru relief is crushed when the guest, ?The Arab ? closed the door carefully, and came back to bed without a sound?(Camus 119). Daru gives up for the night going into an uneasy sleep.

Daru rises in the morning and finds his guest. He awakens his guest to give him another chance of escape and to avoid his own act of having to choose. Daru takes the Arab outside hoping he might leave. . Daru?s curiosity gets the best of him and he checks on the Arab. Finding him still there, Daru takes the Arab to the crossroads and explains,

?There?s the way to Tinguit. You have a two?hour walk. ? They are expecting you.?? That?s the trail across the plateau. In a day?s walk from here you?ll find pasturelands and the first nomads. They?ll take you in and shelter you according to their law? (Camus 119).

Daru, in his mind has left the Arab?s fate in his own hands by showing him both ways he feels he has discharged any duty he had to the government. He also feels that he has avoided conflict with his Arab heritage by letting the wanted man make his own choice. Daru leaves and starts on his journey home thinking that he avoided choice, but he turns to go check, ?Daru, with heavy heart, makes out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prison? (Camus 121). Daru is sadden when he sees the choice the Arab made. He seemed to want the man to choose life over certain death, but he could have helped him make that choice by telling him to leave. But Daru never wanted to accept the consequences of that type of action so he avoided having to choose and by treating the Arab prisoner as a guest he made a choice without even realizing. Upon his arrival home Daru is confronted, ?You handed over our brother. You will pay for this? (Camus 121). His heritage/people has decided.

Daru tried to be loyal to both sides by refusing to make a difficult choice. By trying to avoid conflict, consequences and decisions he placed himself in the position of letting someone else deciding his fate. Daru efforts illustrate that choice cannot be avoided. All people make choices daily, good or bad we must all live with them. When we avoid choice we avoid being responsible for our actions and ourselves.

I recieved a B- on this so it needs work. This is Albert Camus The guest

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