Summary and Analysis Section 6



Inez does not wish help from Garcin, but he argues that the three of them are inextricably linked together: If all three of them don't cooperate, they will all suffer. But Inez lacks sufficient "human feeling" and can no longer give anything. Interestingly, they all see what's happening on earth — in life — as their former relatives and associates continue living; this idea is interjected regularly into their conversations. Inez accepts her Hell (she says that she is "rotten to the core") and rejects Garcin's appeal to curtail her suffering. Estelle is upset about a former lover whom she can "see" dancing with Olga, and Inez steps in to comfort her; Estelle wants nothing to do with Inez, just as the latter wants nothing to do with Garcin, nor Garcin with Estelle. Garcin agrees to pay attention to Estelle, and they begin to touch each other; Inez protests and intends to bore holes through them with her eyes.


There are two important points in this section. (1) Part of Sartre's theory on choice and freedom states that one chooses for all of humanity when one chooses for oneself. Here, all of the choices made by each character affect the others; when Estelle fatigues of Inez, she spits in her face — and, with this, Inez directs her anger at Garcin, not at Estelle: "Garcin, you shall pay for this." Within Sartre's system, nothing can happen without influencing everything else; therefore, Estelle can't do anything without her actions also affecting Garcin. This is part of their Hell. (2) As a child, Sartre felt the presence of God, or at least the idea of God, watching over his shoulder. The same silent, surveying God occurs in Sartre's "Childhood of a Leader," where God becomes something of an Orwellian Big Brother. In No Exit, the spiritual entity (whether this be God, Satan, or "the others") is portrayed as a watchful eye, which is best illustrated in the speech by Inez, in which she tells Garcin (who is about to make love to Estelle): "Don't forget I'm here, and watching. I shan't take my eyes off you." This is a direct reflection of the sense of a watchful God felt by young Sartre before he gave up religion to become an atheist: a cold, impersonal, exacting, and critical presence which belies the claims made in the hopeful, promising Bible. There is no hint of Christianity or salvation in this play; its emotional and philosophical setting is a doomed, desperate hopelessness, an angst par excellence, a compunction wrought out by sin.

Back to Top