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No Exit

No Exit


by Jean-Paul Sartre

Analysis: Writing Style

Direct, clipped

That’s right. There’s no beating around the bush, for Sartre or for his characters. Of course we can’t forget that we’re dealing with a translation, but still, the majority of text is short, clipped dialogue, almost a Q and A form. In fact, check out the early exchanges between Garcin and the valet – these set the stylistic stage for the rest of the play. Because so much of the language is minimal, we sit up and pay attention when we come across The Big Fancy Passages. This is likely intentional; that which we’re supposed to remember thematically is also memorable linguistically. It makes use of grander, more elaborate language and sentence structure. Compare your run-of-the-mill No Exit language to your Important Stuff style:

Most of No Exit:
VALET: Can't you see? The lights are on.
GARCIN: Ah, yes, I've got it. It's your daytime. And outside?
VALET: Outside?
GARCIN: Damn it, you know what I mean. Beyond that wall.
VALET: There's a passage.
GARCIN: And at the end of the passage?
VALET: There's more rooms, more passages, and stairs.
GARCIN: And what lies beyond them?
VALET: That's all.(32-40)

Important Stuff:

GARCIN: Open the door! Open, blast you! I'll endure anything, your red-hot tongs and molten lead, your racks and prongs and garrotes – all your fiendish gadgets, everything that burns and flays and tears – I'll put up with any torture you impose. Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough. Now will you open? (500)

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