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The Wall

In: English and Literature

Submitted By corinnelw
Words 1024
Pages 5
Corinne Lafalmme-Wathey
Professor Keough
Critical Writing 120
3 March 2015
“America at War Paper 2” In Jean-Paul Sartre’s “The Wall” there are the five stages of death demonstrated to the audience through what Juan, Tom and Pablo are experiencing. The five stages of death are as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The main reason for all their actions and the ways in which they are reacting to the situation are based around fear. We are able to distinguish a slight difference between the two Tom and Pablo and the young child, Juan. Pablo and Tom’s main fear is concentrated on the physical and emotional pain and suffering that will come from being executed, while Juan simply remains cornered in the cell, in an emotionless state one could say, because he is being executed for something he is not responsible for. Sartre provides his readers with a great deal of detail about the emotions and physical reactions that the three experience as it gets closer to the morning of their execution. Along with the feeling of fear, there are many more ways in which the three respond to such a traumatizing situation. The first stage of death is known as denial. It is clearly shown in the beginning of the night that the three of them are unable to accept the fact that they have been sentenced to death and even more so that little Juan has been as well. It is naturally a hard notion to grasp for the mind and the body of someone who is currently alive, with blood rushing through their veins, that in a couple of hours they will be dead, cold, and emotionless. After Juan has heard the news that he will be executed the following morning, he chose to isolate himself entirely from the group, cornered himself not mentally able to soak in the information, further resulting in the physically deteriorating conditions like the cold sweats, pale bodies, trembling and loss of sensation. Pablo, the narrator, best portrays the second stage of death, anger. Pablo shows a very strong emotion of hatred and disgust towards the Belgian doctor who was sent in to observe them that night. He is angry for the Belgian is alive; he is part of the living with his “red hands”, unlike their pale grey bodies lying on the cold, hard floor. He is angry because he is human and shows no compassion towards the three of them laying in the cell awaiting their death, all he does is monitor and observe them with his cold, blank eyes. Tom is angry as well because he is not physically feeling certain things anymore, for example, peeing himself and refuses that Pablo says he has done so. Tom expresses the third stage of death, bargaining, very clearly with his example of “the wall”. Tom at one point begins to feel this rush of emotions and starts to rant about how he wishes that his solution would work when he is placed in front of the firing squad. He begins to talk about how he will put all his strength and focus into pushing himself into the wall in hopes of the wall absorbing him protecting him from the bullets coming towards him. In reality though, there is no bargaining with death therefore he simply just lays there afterwards, leading into depression, the fourth stage. The three all become very cold, and quiet and begin to realize what is truly happening to them. They envy the Belgian doctor who is standing in front of them for all they can focus on is the fact that he is alive because they already consider themselves as dead. They refer to themselves as bloodthirsty vampires drinking on the simple fact that he is alive and they are not anymore. His being alive and present, is physically keeping them alive even to a point where we see little Juan grab the doctors hand and make a gesture of wanting to bite his wrist, representing a sort of “thirst for life”. At this point the two others, Tom and Pablo, begin to find such behavior entertaining because after spending hours observing the sky and the world outside the small gap, there is nothing left to enjoy. Lastly, there is acceptance. “I felt relaxed and over-excited at the same time” said Pablo. Here is when we begin to see that the fear that was making all of them go insane at first, has now simmered down for they have understood what is to come tomorrow morning. Pablo explains that what was going to happen at dawn made no sense anymore and that it was all just emptiness. When he tried to think of something else other than his execution however, he would only see firing barrels pointed at him and hearing the gunshots. Finally he began to think of the meaning of life and what it was all even worth if he were to die such a death, like an animal. Eventually the two men accept the fact that there is nothing left for them and that they are going to die in the coming hours. Juan however is much more sensitive and begins to wail and cry, unable to stand on his own feet when the guards come to carry him out. In conclusion, throughout the story while Tom, Juan, and Pablo each experience the notion of death we are able to gain insight on a variety of emotions and reactions from all three of them. There are moments of fear, terror and sadness, and then there is anger, rejection, comparing oneself to another, self-hate and confusion. Lastly there is simply numbness that is left, not being able to feel anything, not comprehending truly what is happening but just accepting it in order to appreciate what is left of life. Fear all-in-all leads the two men and Juan into extreme stages of emotional and physical distress until there very last moments before the guards come to call them. They each have experienced the fear of death differently yet still in the same way.…...

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