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Guide Mentor

Character Role Analysis

Inez Serrano

Because Inez is the character who most closely embodies Sartre’s perspective (see her "Character Analysis" for more), she acts as a guide to the other tortured souls. Look at the way these passages pair up:

INEZ: I prefer to choose my hell; I prefer to look you in the eyes and fight it out face to face. (262)
GARCIN: We’ve got to see it through somehow...Naked as we were born. So much the better; I want to know whom I have to deal with. (266)

Garcin learns from Inez and starts to repeat her ideas. Notice that she is the one to explain the cafeteria-style torture, even though Garcin delivers the "hell is other people" line much later. And look at the way Inez guides Garcin in their debate at the end of the play:

INEZ: Exactly. That's the question. Was that your real motive? No doubt you argued it out with yourself, you weighed the pros and cons, you found good reasons for what you did. But fear and hatred and all the dirty little instincts one keeps dark – they're motives too. So carry on, Mr. Garcin, and try to be honest with yourself – for once. (455)

And yet, all three characters have influence and power over each other. For example, Estelle buries her head in her hands in the second half of the play – an action that has by this point belonged entirely to Joseph Garcin (and a significant action at that; just read what we have to say on "Faces" in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory"). Estelle also claims in the play’s latter half that she is "rotten through and through," a line that until then belonged to Inez ("I'm rotten to the core"). What we can conclude from this mutual teaching and learning is that the characters are intensely inter-dependent. Everything they do or say has potentially greater consequences because of the effect it might have on the others who might imitate it. This is summed up nicely in a passage delivered by Garcin in the second half of No Exit:

GARCIN: Inez, they've laid their snare damned cunningly – like a cobweb. If you make any movement, if you raise your hand to fan yourself, Estelle and I feel a little tug. Alone, none of us can save himself or herself; we're linked together inextricably. So you can take your choice. (351)