Sample Literature Essay Paper on Analysis of The Wall

Jean Paul Sartre’s The Wall is a dystopian short story centered on three inmates of a prison. The story is set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. The novel’s plot is largely set during a night in a prison when the inmates are informed that they are to be shot the following morning. Sartre examines religion from a philosophical perspective in this novel.

The Author’s Point

Sartre wants to show how human beings reason differently about life and death. His point in writing the novel is not to depict the events of the Spanish Civil War but show the evolution of human thoughts in an attempt to conceive what is inconceivable. None of the characters in the novel realize the ultimate purpose or result of human thought evolution. They are killed in the end.

            It is apparent that the main character, Pablo Ibbieta, manages to keep some form of composure. However, it is evident that he also has the general fears that every human being faces when faced with death. Juan Mirbal is scared of physical suffering and breaks down in tears, while Tom Steinbock attempts to ignore the fact that he is about to die. Pablo wants to leave the earth with dignity and understand the meaning of life and death. The novel’s characters demonstrate three types of human understanding about death. Juan is inexperienced and immature and attempts to lose himself in the midst of suffering. Tom is grounded whilst being plain and generic. Pablo is actively thinking and seeking the truth. These conceptions of death are what the author wants to convey to the audience. 

The Nature of the Universe

The story drives home the point that outcomes derived from the aptitude to make choices are essentially uncertain. Naturally, a person cannot know what the future holds, hence it is a key variable that has to be considered. As the author demonstrates through the story’s main character, making choices is hard due to one’s inability to predict the impact of these choices. However, this does not excuse the decision-maker from the impact of choices. If so, the concept of accountability would have no meaning, thus leading to irreversible problems in the world. Whilst some might assert that Pablo had no intention of murdering Ramon, and that he did not have the urge to perform such an act, the outcome was still realized as a consequence of his choices. The character himself makes apparent the notion of there being uncertainty in every outcome and of how one should consider these aspects when making decisions.

The Nature of Human Beings

Human beings are inherently selfish in the decisions that they make. Sartre examines the issue of accountability in one’s decisions, particularly when it leads to unforeseen outcomes. The main character in the novel is faced with a situation whereby he should decide whether or not to conceal where one of his compatriot is hiding. Even though Ibbieta eventually opts to lie about the whereabouts of his compatriot, it becomes clear that he does this for personal gain rather than to benefit Ramon. It is not till the point when the outcome is manifested that Ibbieta acknowledges the mistakes he had made by unintentionally revealing the location of Ramon. To that extent, Pablo Ibbieta is liable for Ramon’s death through the uncertainty of outcomes that accompany human decisions as well as the lack of consistency and conviction.  

What People Must Do to Realize Happiness

The author shows that human beings must accept their prevailing situations to be happy. The encounter with death enables the protagonist to comprehend life. Sartre illustrates the fear of approaching the end with the physical transformations of the characters first and then moving to the psychological changes. When the characters understand that they will die, their faces turn ashen grey. The shock on their faces is the manner in which the audience sees Toma and Juan through the perspective of Pablo. Afterwards, the protagonist unexpectedly realizes that his face also resembles those of his cellmates. They look just like mirror-reflections (Satre, 8). The Belgian physician, who was given the role of examining their physical status, reminds them of the time remaining, and Pablo starts to acknowledge it as an existing entity. Furthermore, the reality that surrounds the main character starts to blur. Things take a different outlook, they become increasingly distant and cannot be understood (Sartre 10). Similarly, the doctor is portrayed as a living person who is suffering from the cold in the blackened cellar.

            The next step is for the main character to realize the pointlessness of life. He is no longer controlled by his love for his mistress Concha, for whom he would have given his life without hesitation. Moreover, he realizes that every human being is mortal. Therefore, everybody gets to die at some point. Such realizations enable him to find both courage and a sense of humor. It becomes clear that one cannot be happy until he or she embraces the circumstances that he/she is facing.   

Work Cited

Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Wall (Intimacy) and Other Stories. Vol. 272. New Directions Publishing, 1969.