© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
No Exit

No Exit


by Jean-Paul Sartre

Estelle Rigault Timeline and Summary

  • Estelle enters the room, where Garcin has his face buried in his hands. She orders him not to look up, afraid that he has no face. (It becomes clear later that she thinks he is her dead lover, who shot himself in the face.)
  • Her first concern is over which couch she should sit on; she wants one that complements her outfit.
  • Estelle reveals that she died yesterday of pneumonia and that the funeral is still in progress. She watches her friend Olga, who isn’t crying.
  • Estelle doesn’t want anyone to use the word "dead." She prefers "absent."
  • She doesn’t allow Garcin to remove his jacket, even though it’s terribly hot.
  • Estelle looks back to earth and sees Olga undressing for bed.
  • She refuses to make her confession, claiming that she is in hell by some sort of mistake.
  • Estelle gives some back story. Her parents died when she was very young and she had to take care of her brother. She married a much older, wealthy man. Then, a young man fell in love with her, but she refused to carry on an affair with him. (We find out later that this is not true.)
  • Along with Garcin and Inez, Estelle makes a pact to sit in silence. However, she quickly becomes concerned that she has no mirror. She asks for one, but no one answers. Finally Inez offers her eyes as a mirror.
  • Estelle listens as Inez instructs her how to do her make-up and then lies to her about a pimple on her chin.
  • Inez quickly discerns that Estelle is hesitant to be friends because of class differences (Estelle is higher on the social ladder than Inez).
  • The three of them make another pact to leave each other alone, but this time Inez breaks it.
  • Garcin moves toward Estelle and reveals his past as a womanizer.
  • Garcin and Inez make their confessions, but Estelle is still in denial. She claims to not know why she’s in hell.
  • The others coax the story out of her. She did indeed have an affair with the young man, named Roger. She got pregnant, ran away to Switzerland to have the baby out of the sight of her husband. Then, she drowned it in front of Roger, who shot himself in the face shortly after.
  • While Inez stands behind Estelle and talks to her, Estelle faces Garcin and pretends it is with him that she is conversing. She begs Garcin to take her in his arms, since Inez, as a woman, doesn’t count.
  • Estelle then looks back to earth and sees her friend Olga dancing with Peter, an eighteen-year-old boy who used to be in love with her (Estelle). She’s jealous, feeling that Peter still belongs to her.
  • Estelle spits in Inez’s face and again turns to Garcin for comfort.
  • Before Garcin will step into that role, he wants to know that Estelle respects and trusts him. She quickly agrees, but when Inez points out that she’s lying, Estelle admits that she is.
  • Garcin tries to leave the room. When the door opens, Estelle says she’ll leave with him.
  • No one leaves.
  • Garcin kisses Estelle in order to prove that he has power over Inez.
  • Inez explains that Estelle and Garcin will never be alone, and she will never let them be happy. Estelle responds by rushing at her with the paper-knife, only to find that Inez is already dead.
  • The three of them laugh, collapse on their couches, and finally lapse into silence.