Summary and Analysis
The three people begin wondering why they have been sent to Hell. Estelle thinks that in her case an error was made. Inez's response is a smile, and this disturbs Estelle very much. Estelle confesses that she married a man who was old enough to be her father, but he had money and could help her look after her delicate brother. Then, after six years of marriage, she met another man and fell in love with him. She contracted pneumonia and died. Inez thinks all three of them are criminals, murderers. Estelle shouts at her to be quiet. Suddenly, Inez realizes why the three of them are together: The "official torturer" is absent, and they shall spend eternity in the same room; "each of us will act as torturer of the two others." Garcin recommends aloneness and silence as solutions: This will give them a chance to work out their salvation, and they must not raise their heads. All three agree. Then Inez sings a song about an executioner who chops off heads for a living; Estelle powders her face, and Garcin buries his head in his hands. Estelle wants a mirror, but there are none in the room.
The absence of a mirror is significant: It prevents the characters from being able to see themselves with an object; thus, they are forced to see themselves through other people's impressions about them. This places more importance on one's inner self-image than on the details of facial makeup, hair, and so on. Part of their "Hell" process is the idea of passing through a self-examination and assessment.