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Literary Analysis of Jean-Paul Sartre?s ?The Wall?

Jean-Paul Sartre authored “The Wall” a collection of short fictional stories that was published in 1939. This book is set in Spain and its Civil War acts as the backdrop. In this book, three men have been sentenced to death by the Spanish Fascists. They are put in reclusion or a cell, and a static character, the Belgian doctor observes their mental torture on the last night before being subjected to the firing squad. The three men are Pablo Ibietta, Juan, and Tom. Pablo is the protagonist and the narrator of the story (Sartre 1). He is being tried for war crimes and his refusal to reveal the whereabouts of his friend, Ramon Gris, an anarchist. Juan’s criminal charge is having a brother who is an anarchist while Tom is a member of International Brigades. Juan is the protagonist and believes that he will be killed because he is not innocent.

Sartre has used narration to reveal the reactions, psychological state, and thoughts of the three men as they await execution. In this book, the author uses imagery to show the intense emotions of the three convicts. The wall has been used to show the end of life and freedom. The wall symbolizes the end of freedom and good life for the three men. It also symbolizes the “blockade” that is between them and their lives. On a literal meaning, the cell is reclusion of walls. The firing squad will use the wall to terminate lives. This is a wall in a wall or the use of a wall as an object to put a “wall” (death) to the lives of the three men. They are locked in and cannot have contact with the other world and this translates to reclusion or total separation. The cell is an enclosure that stands between them and their dreams. The only thing that is connecting them to their past is memories. Pablo is detached from life. He knows that the woman he loves, the life, does not matter anymore.

The main theme in this book is “death.” The wall symbolizes death, an imminent end that all people must face. They cannot think beyond the wall and thus have resigned themselves to death even before they face the firing squad. It is significant to note that the men are psychologically dead even before the guards take them to face the firing squad. The other theme is innocence. Pablo and Juan are innocent. Juan tries to justify his innocence when he admits that his brother is an anarchist, and claims that he does not belong to any political party (Sartre 1). They have been convicted because of their relations with anarchists. The other themes in this story are love, society versus individuals and reality. The author drags the story through suspense, and literary intensifies the conflict that surfaces among the convicts and their imminent death.

Works Cited

Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Wall. 1939.Web. 17 November 2010.

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