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Paranoia: Creator of Mental Instability and Isolation

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When Daru, a French schoolteacher, is forced to take in an Arab accused of murder, his mind suffers from paranoiac delusions. Daru’s doubts about the mental soundness of the Arab leave him feeling abnormally isolated and persecuted by unknown enemies. In “The Teacher” by Arnold Shiller, paranoia forms a self-imposed isolation and creates mental instability.

Living in an isolated region of a French colony, possibly Algeria, Daru does not feel alone. As a schoolteacher, his current state of solitude is created by a snowstorm, a force of nature he cannot control. Daru is aware of the people suffering from the snowstorm, such as his students, and constantly mulls over their situation to entertain himself. Though Daru lives in a remote schoolhouse, this harsh region is home to him because “Everywhere else, he felt exiled” (54). Though physically removed from people, Daru is mentally close and awaiting their return after the snowstorm ends. He cannot be isolated because humanity still envelops his home.

Daru’s paranoia emerges when his friend Balducci brings an Arab accused of murder to his schoolhouse. Daru immediately notices the unpleasant aspects of the Arab, such as his huge lips, feverish eyes, and rebellious look, but he still unties the hands of the Arab with some compassion. When Balducci announces that Daru must deliver the Arab to Tinguit, Daru is surprised and reluctant to do so because it violates his principles. But Balducci’s paranoia begins to infect Daru, and when Daru asks “’Is he against us?’”, Balducci replies with “’I don’t think so. But you can never be sure’” (56). Daru suddenly feels wrathful towards the Arab and all men for their spite, hates, and lusts, isolating himself from others through this new hatred. Thus, Daru silently accepts the pistol that Balducci hands over to him, realizing that it could be of use in the future, possibly for murder. Daru’s flash of wrath passes quickly, though, and he stands fast on his resolution not to hand over the Arab, preferring to insult Balducci rather than violate his beliefs. Once Balducci leaves, Daru feels isolated, though the Arab sits on the floor, because he is afraid of the Arab who, “without stirring, never took his eyes off him” (58). This paranoiac isolation makes Daru stick the revolver in his pocket as a confirmation of his fear, similar to Oedipa Maas’ useless search for human companionship as a confirmation of her isolation. Through anger at and fear of the human race, Daru creates a bubble of solitude, removing himself from even a human that sits next to him.

In the middle of the story, Daru begins to doubt the humanity of the Arab, and wishes that he would leave and eliminate the problem of bringing him to Tinguit and violating his beliefs or disobeying the government and bringing punishment upon himself. Daru is “amazed at the

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