Analysis of Stories: “The Guest” by Albert Camus and “A&P” by John Updike Essay

December 20, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Nov 2nd, 2018

“The Guest” by Albert Camus

The story revolves around an Algerian school headmaster. This is seen in the line that states, “the school head master planned that they would take thirty minutes to reach hill”. He lived in the upcountry of Algeria for a long time. In addition, he lived next to the school he was a headmaster.

He taught students with a poor background. To help the students, he volunteered to bring food provided by government for poor pupils. He had been forced to hide a man of an Arab origin in a nearby city. This had got him into a dilemma of making the right choice for himself.

The Author Details

The Author was an Algerian Journalist born in 1913. He had joined the communist party and actively participated in Algerian politics, but later he relocated to France. He was very sensitive to human health as he had suffered from tuberculosis at age 17.


The themes portrayed in the story involve human alienation, difficulty of moral choice, human life values, and responsibility. An elaboration of the theme moral choice gives an explanation to the status of dilemma that protagonist, Daru, got into. He had no choice to making his own decision.

The act was against his will but he did not know what to do. The political temperatures were high and his actions could determine his destiny. In addition, there is a theme of isolation or loneliness in the story. This is seen in his residential place which was outside the city.


The writer uses an inside monologue. This contrasts the common third person narrative form or style. The writer applies an omniscient view point of a third person party to disclose the opinion of the central character, Daru.


Symbols, such as desolate mountain plate, has been shown to represent the alienation of Daru. He was contented with himself. That is why he lived in the up- country side. He offered meals to pupils who were disadvantaged economically. Daru was living a simple life. He has dedicated his life to bringing up academic wise pupils. In the statement, “Untying the prisoner’s hands”, the author refers to this action as to the symbol of release of peoples’ will (100).


The author’s idea of freedom has been accomplished through the use of hardship and enduring steps. He acted on behalf of peoples’ choices and he seemed to be ready to make his own.

It is ironical that Daru decides to live with a fugitive. He even goes to an extent of feeding him with the best meal. The Arab is amazed and even asks Daru the question “Why do you eat with me?” (99). The Arab is surprised at Daru’s hospitality. Daru is a simple man who cares ad cannot commit a crime.

According to Daru, he has been forced to live with the Arab who had slit the throat of his cousin, this is “a relations squabble” (89) in Balducci’s opinion. Instead of turning him to the police as quickly as possible, he dares to live and feed him. He is so caring but it is ironical to keep a murderer who is so deadly.

“A&P” by John Updike

The story is about a boy named Sammy. Sammy is a cashier who does not like his job. However, he gets exited at three half nakedly dressed girls who get into the shop where he is the cashier. Sammy is amazed at these ladies’ confidence and he gets attracted to one particular girl named “Queenie” (Miller & Nash 88).

The story climaxes with embarrassment by Lengel, a manager at A & P. Sammy tries to sympathize with the girls who do not notice his action. He pities them by saying, “Poor kids, I began to feel sorry for them, they couldn’t help it”. He feels disappointed and goes ahead to quit his job with hopes that he will be the ladies’ “unsuspected hero”.

The Author

The writer was one of the most prolific writers. He wrote a range of articles, short stories, memoirs, poetry and essays. He was born in 1932. His A&P story is fictional.


The themes in this story demonstrate consequences, choices and transition. He is full of struggles and goes ahead to quit his job. The struggle is confirmed when Sammy says, “my belly sort of cut down as I felt how hard the earth would look like afterwards” (Miller & Nash 115).

He is doing this for the girls. He depicts some degree of love for the girls. He makes a bad choice of quitting his job because Lengel did not impress him. He is completely aware of the choice he is making and he knows that this will affect his family seriously. The manager has tried to persuade him not to quite but he has made up his mind to go away for good.


First person Narration method has been employed. This is seen in Sammy’s words. He says “As I looked through the windowpane, I saw Lengel in my window gap scrutinizing the sheep” (Miller & Nash 98).


Sammy, the protagonist in the story shows some form of immaturity on how he makes his decisions. He has decided to quit his job. The use of symbolism has been applied on the part describing quitting. He has hesitations in “removing his apron” (Miller & Nash 101). The apron once is removed it cannot be returned. This symbolizes his job quitting ordeal.


Sammy refers to the customers as “sheep”. This means that they are like stupid human beings. He shows great hatred for his job. His main influence is the life transition effects that he is experiencing. It has not hit his head that living without finances is quite challenging. He makes a life changing decision which would lead him into a life of absolute poverty.


Ogling with girls is not a big deal to Sammy. This is however ironical in that he feels disturbed when his colleague speaks with the ladies. This is confused because no one wants attention if he or she is not concerned.

Comparison between “A&P” and “The Guest”


The two stories share a common theme of decision making and free will from a philosophical perspective. Both protagonists faced a dilemma of making the right choice in their lives. Sammy made a voluntary choice to quit job. He is fully aware of the repercussions of his quilting, but nothing can change his decision. He feels that his boss, Lengel does not respect uniqueness. The fact that the three girls came to the shop in their bikinis embarrassed him. Sammy feels that the boss should understand that their shop is located next to the beach.

On the other hand, in “The guest”, Daru faces a dilemma on which choice to make after being forced to hide a prisoner. He is just a mere head teacher in one of the upcountry schools. He has two options from the philosophical point of view. He is to either be a social being and accept the man and let him go free, or accomplish justice by delivering him to the hands of the police. Making the best choice has been the hardest thing for Daru ever since the Arab man had been brought to him.


Both stories use irony. In “A&P”, irony has been employed to show Sammy’s immaturity. This is evident when at first he acts as if ogling with girls is not a big deal, but later he starts feeling attracted to the ladies. This is a sign of the adolescence stage transition. In “The guest”, irony has been used to express the free will of Daru. The fact that he was a good man and was hiding a murderer was one ironical thing.

Style of Narration

In “A&P”, the writer has used the first person narration to give the views of the protagonist Sammy. First person narration brings a clear view of what the author wants to express (Miller & Nash 121). On the other hand, the author in “The Guest” uses a monologue. This is opposed to the use of a third person narrative where one cannot read the mind of the protagonist.


Updike has employed the use of metaphors in his story line. This figurative speech brings energy to narratives whether fictional or real stories. On the other side, Camus has not used metaphor in his story. Both stories are fictional ones.


Climax has been used in both stories. In the story “The guest”, climax has been depicted where Daru decides to let the killer go. The decision released him from the hands of the state and also allowed the prisoner to choose his fate. “In A&P”, Climax occurs when Sammy decides to quit his job. He could not take Lengel’s words any more hence he decided to quit his job.

Works Cited

Miller, Quentin, and J. Nash. Connections: Composition in Literature. New York: Wordsworth Publishers, 2007. Print.

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