Existentialism Essay

By nature human beings are forced to endure the trials of both the internal and the external world. An individual must battle with his or her conscience on a daily basis, and through both thoughts and actions he or she must continually strive for success in an absurd world. Every person must face choices every day of his or her life, but every individual places priorities in his or her own order. This sequence in which a person places his or her prerogative, with regards for the lives of others, determines the nobility of that individual.

In The Guest by Albert Camus and To Build A Fire by Jack London, the nobility of the characters Daru (the noblest), the man (the second noblest), and Balducci (the poorest noble) are evident by the manner in which each man prioritizes his life. This is evident by examining to what extent he takes others into consideration before himself. The character of Daru in the story The Guest, reveals an unselfish and fair disposition when he faces the delegation of turning the incarcerated Arab into prison.

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Daru s attitude reflects an existentialist tone when he encounters Balducci s orders for Daru to take the Arab to the prison, and Daru responds by stating, That s not my job. This statement that Daru makes shows his tact, honesty, and assertiveness. Daru is confident in himself, so therefore he sees every man equally and is not intimidated by higher authorities. His courage in saying no to the orders he is given by a higher authority exibits his nobility because he is willing to suffer the consequences of doing what he believes is right.

Also, when the Arab is left under Daru s supervision, Daru removes the Arab s handcuffs and treats him like a guest. This exemplifies true nobility because he is willing to humble himself enough to share his home, food, and company with a person who is deemed as an outcast of society. When the time comes for Daru to accompany the Arab to prison, he makes a wise decision by allowing the Arab the choice to either embark by himself on the journey to the prison in the east or to travel west on his own towards freedom.

Daru s willingness to submit the situation out of his own control, reveals nobility because he is risking being punished for not obeying authorities so that one man (Arab) will have the chance to choose his own fate. Daru is the noblest of the three characters because he places the lives of others before his own on his priority list. In the story To Build a Fire, the man is traveling alone in the freezing cold snow, and he responds ignorantly when a man from Sulphur Creek advises him to take precautions before travelling in severely cold weather.

The man from Sulphur Creek admonishes the travelling man not to travel alone in the snow because it is very treacherous. Even though the adventurous man knows in the back of his mind that the advice is useful, he laughs and persists on with his journey to camp alone. In a way the fearless character of the man does show some nobility because he is willing to break a logical rule of nature and face its hazards in solicitude. He is doing what the average person would never conceive of doing, and in a slight way that earns him a fair amount of noble recognition.

In opposition to nobility, the man also puts his pride as first on his priority list because he is reluctant to heed the advise of the wise man from Sulphur Creek. The man allows pride to blind him in making a conscience decision whether or not to travel alone, and his unwillingness to humble himself leads to his death. The other character in the story The Guest who has the name Balducci, is almost completely opposite of the noble Daru.

Balducci enters the story on a journey to Daru s house in order to give Daru the orders to turn the imprisoned Arab into custody. When Daru gazes out his window to see who is coming up his hill, he observes Balducci holding on the end of his rope an Arab. This symbolically reveals that the Arab controls Balducci because the Arab bounds Balducci to his duty and orders from the higher authorities. Balducci is submissive to his duty to take part in making sure that the Arab reaches prison.

Even though Balducci knows that the crime that the Arab previously commits has nothing to do with himself or Daru, he still does not act upon his own conscience, but he allows the higher authorities to make him do something that he believes is wrong. Balducci reveals that he is selfishly thinking of his own future when he asserts, What a chore! How I long for retirement. The fate of the Arab is not as significant to Balducci as his own egotistical desires.

Therefore, in taking Balducci s character into consideration, it is evident that he places himself and his future on the top of his priority list, and as a result others such as the Arab must suffer. Balducci s character is absent of nobility. A person of nobility possesses the qualities of humbleness, desires to put others before himself, and is not hesitant to act upon what he believes. Daru portrays a model character of nobility because he acts upon what he believes and says no to the orders given to him commanding him to escort the Arab to prison.

He also humbles himself enough to submit his control over the Arab, and he does what he believes is right and lets the Arab choose his own consequences. The character of the man in To Build a Fire exemplifies a person who is contradictory. In one light the man is noble because he courageously ventures out to overcome the forces of nature in order to reach his destination. Also in a contrasting way, he is prideful because he allows his pride to restrict him from heeding the man from Sulphur Creek s cautions about the perils of traveling alone.

Lastly, Balducci is an example of a character who is completely opposite of a man of nobility (Daru). He is selfish and desires only to fulfill his future plans according to his benefit, and he is reluctant to make a sacrifice in order to prevent himself from doing what he knows is not his job. (Aiding in taking the Arab to prison). A person of nobility must be willing to put others at the top of his or her priority-list because an individual s priority determines his or her actions, and a person s actions determine his or her nobility.