by Jean-Paul Sartre
Inez Serrano Timeline and Summary
- Inez enters the room with the valet. To his surprise, she has no questions to ask.
- Inez notes that Florence isn’t there and concludes that hell must be separation, though she then adds that she won’t miss her anyway.
- She is disappointed to find that the door is locked.
- When Garcin suggests that be polite to each other, Inez says that’s not her style.
- She is angered by Garcin’s twitching mouth, so he buries his face in his hands to hide it.
- When Estelle arrives, it’s clear that Inez is attracted to her. She offers the young woman her own couch to sit on, but Estelle refuses.
- Inez reveals she died from a gas stove leak last week.
- Looking back to earth, Inez observes her old apartment, sealed and dark.
- She proposes that the three of them tell their stories to figure out why they’re in hell together. When Garcin and Estelle dance around the truth, she calls them out as liars.
- Then Inez concludes that each will act as a torturer to the other two.
- Along with the other two, Inez agrees to sit in silence and solitude.
- After they begin their silence, however, she starts singing. She converses with Estelle and offers to be her mirror.
- When Estelle doubts her own existence, Inez calls her lucky. She herself is always "painfully conscious" of being alive.
- Estelle sits on Inez’s couch and uses her eyes as a mirror. Inez tells Estelle how to do her makeup, and questions what Estelle will do when her mirror starts lying.
- Then she says she’ll be nice to Estelle because she’s attracted to her. Unfortunately, Estelle is attracted to Garcin.
- The three make another pact to sit in silence, but Inez quickly breaks it, claiming its absurd to pretend that the others aren’t there. She would rather choose her hell and fight it, face to face, than ignore it.
- Inez listens to Garcin’s confession and asks questions about his wife.
- Inez confesses her own story. She stole her cousin’s wife, Florence. The cousin killed himself, and shortly after Florence killed Inez and herself by turning on the gas stove while they slept.
- Inez and Garcin press Estelle for her confession.
- She looks back to earth, where her apartment is being rented out to someone new. As the scene dies out, Inez realizes she no longer has any connection to earth, and all of her is now in hell.
- Garcin implores Inez to help him emotionally, but she claims she is "rotten to the core." The two of them agree that Estelle is there to act as Inez’s torturer, and that this has all been planned out ahead of time.
- Inez asks for Garcin to leave her and Estelle alone, and he agrees.
- Inez stands behind Estelle and talks to her, while Estelle faces Garcin and pretends she is conversing with him. The old siwtcheroo doesn’t work, and Estelle still wants Garcin to hold her. She spits in Inez’s face.
- As Garcin moves toward Estelle, Inez cries out that they shouldn’t kiss while she’s there.
- Inez watches their interaction and exposes Estelle’s admiration for Garcin as a farce.
- Garcin tries to leave but remains behind even after the door opens on account of Inez. He knows that she understands crime and guilt and fear. As a result, she is the one he needs to convince of his bravery.
- Inez tries to get him to make a sound argument for his own bravery, but thwarts him at every turn, only reinforcing the idea of his cowardice. He claims a man is what he wills himself to be, but Inez counters that actions, not aspirations, are what matter. "You are – your life, and nothing else," she says.
- Inez knows that Garcin is at her mercy, but he establishes that she, too, is at his mercy, since he can kiss Estelle as a way to torture her.
- She and Garcin despair that it will never be nighttime, and they will always be able to see each other.
- Inez laughs when Estelle tries to kill her with the paper-knife, since, after all, they’re already dead. She then jabs at herself several times, with no result.
- The three of them laugh helplessly and collapse on their respective sofas, trailing off into silence.