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No Exit

Jean-Paul Sartre

Section 2

Summary Section 2

This section also establishes Sartre's underlying argument of the play: "Hell is other people." Inez can't be an objective mirror while looking at Estelle; since they do not have the same "taste" Estelle surrenders her individuality to Inez's gaze. Likewise, Inez can't stand Garcin looking at her because she thinks that he is automatically judging her. Since she thinks that is her own role, she accuses him of "stealing" her face. Garcin's mere existence thus reduces Inez's feelings of autonomy. He suggests that they all accept being bound together, but Inez still insists that she has the freedom to make her own decisions. For example, both Garcin and Estelle refuse to let go of their pasts, each "looking" at their friends and loved ones back on earth. Even though they realize that time is passing more quickly on earth than in their room, they both continue to see themselves in terms of their past. Inez however, sees her past as meaningless and inaccessible, choosing to exist in the present instead. She insists to the others that "nothing" is left of them on earth and that "all you own is here." Rather than justify her existence in terms of the person she used to be, Inez asserts her freedom to choose her essence in the present, even though she is in hell.

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