Is the Ending of the Wall by Jean Paul Sartre Ironic?

Topics: Existentialism, Ontology, Life Pages: 3 (1169 words) Published: March 17, 2008
In "The Wall," Jean-Paul Sartre uses many literary techniques to convey irony. Jean-Paul Sartre, an existentialistic writer, states through his characters and symbolism that life has no value. Through Pablo's decision to "trade' his life, Sartre furthers the irony in the story. Symbolism provides authors with a way to convey an underlying theme or to portray the meaning in an event without explicitly outlining the incident. Sartre employs the symbol of a graveyard to express meaninglessness and nothingness. Emotions can express more than a character's feeling at a particular moment, they can also set a tone for a whole story. The conclusion of laughter brings another example of irony through its contradictory nature to the tone at the end of the story. Pablo's decision to trade his life, Sartre's symbolism of the graveyard, and the laughter that closes the story, fortify the ironic nature of this story.

Pablo begins to have an out of body experience to help him understand what is going on and what may happen to him. In the state I was in, if someone had come and told me I could go home quietly, that they would leave my life whole, it would have left me cold: several hours or several years of waiting is all the same when you have lost the illusion of being eternal. I clung to nothing, in a way I was calm. But it was a horrible calm – because of my body; my body I saw with its eyes, I heard with its ears, but it was no longer me, it sweated and trembled by itself and I didn't recognize it anymore (239).

This convinces him that no matter what he does, whether he betrays Ramon Gris or not, he will die. He begins to question his behavior. Why would he sacrifice himself for Ramon Gris? Pablo realizes that no life has more value than another. "No life has value" (242). In the end, he concludes that life has no meaning anyway and that it will not make a difference if he lies to the inquisitors or tells them the truth. His trade becomes ironic when his exchange...
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