In Camus' "The Guest," Existentialism is king; the desolation and isolation seen in the story is evidence of the emptiness of people's lives without a higher power. In this essay, the environment and mood of the short story will be reviewed as a criticism of Existentialism.
The setting of the short story is the desert region of Algeria; there is nothing in or around Daru's home. Food and water are scarce, and there is no one in any direction to speak of. This provides a unique sense of isolation for Daru, as well as anyone who would be in that situation. "This is the way the region was, cruel to live in, even without men--who didn't help matters either. But Daru had been born here; everywhere else, he felt exiled." This is a fairly good estimation of Existentialism - cruel, made worse by the evils of men, and yet we must belong here, as it is the only place we know.
When considering the hollow life inherent to existentialism, one wonders how people can live in it. It is possible to make order in a chaotic universe, but one requires the combination of a higher power and incredible self-control and self-satisfaction. "In contrast with such poverty, he who lived almost like a monk in his remote schoolhouse, nonetheless satisfied with the little he had and with the rough life, had felt like a lord". When a society begins to accept the belief that there is nothing to look forward to beyond the limits of physical reality, it begins to devalue life itself. When life becomes absurd, there is no point to anything, and therefore no accountability.
In conclusion, the characters and the world of "The Guest" show just how empty and meaningless a life without a higher power can be. Only through the belief in a higher power can there be the proper responsibility placed on a person for their actions; without consequences which last beyond life, no one has cause to perform good deeds or act morally.
Camus, A. "The Guest." 1957.