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Good morning and welcome today’s session, today we are looking at this short story The Wall written by Sartre, Sartre is a French philosopher and to be precise he is one who is most associated with existential philosophy, incidentally we are today looking one of his short stories, also proving that he was a multitalented many facetted person and in most of his short stories, we find his existentialist theory is getting reflected but as we read along we will also get to know that this story is slightly different from the other kinds of writings that he had produced. Sartre wrote in French and his works have been translated across and he is considered as one of the most influential philosopher of the 20th century, he lived from 1905 to 1980 and he has influenced many different strands of thought when it comes to philosophy, literature about the various ways in which the modern disciplines could be linked together and it would not be wrong to say that his influence as a writer, as a critic, as a philosopher, it has changed the ways in which literature and philosophy has been understood, been conceived, been framed and thought across different academic institutions, even in the contemporary. Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964, but he refused to accept it, he declined it, saying that as a writer he did not want to become institutionalised, he did not want to become a part of any institutions, so with every single thing that he said, that he thought and kind of actions through which he represented himself, he was truly living theories that he believed in, truly conceiving the ways in which he could live out the theories that he thought about, that he conceived, that he had put forth. He also had a very open relationship with the prominent, feminist thinker of the 20th century and also a fellow extensional philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir and took the, it is considered they had shared a wonderful intellectual partnership and this had in a very impressive way in influenced each other’s works as well. (Refer Slide Time: 2:17) So before we get into some of the analytical frameworks within which Sartre’s works have been looked at, look at the story itself Sartre’s The Wall 1939 short story, it is part of the larger collection, which is also titled The Wall, it has many other stories but something about the ending of this short story, there is something about the narrative structure and kind of themes that it talks about, that it makes this story very different from Sartre’s other works. So in the beginning of the story, we get to know that there are set of the people who are prisoners, it looks more likely, the political prisoners going to be executed, so I just read out first paragraphs that you get the tone and you get the setting and get a hang of the story and the language which is used here. They pushed us into a big white room and began to blink because the light hurt my eyes, then I saw a table and four men behind the table, civilians looking over the papers, they had a bunch of another group of prisoners in the back and we had to cross the whole room to join them, there were several I knew and some others who must have been foreigners, the two in front of me were blonde with round skulls, they looked like, I suppose they were French, the smaller one kept hitching up his pants: nerves. So it is a first-person narrative, we get to know that the setting is in a prison and they are being interrogated and that is the scene which is getting described over here, what is important for us throughout this story, in our understanding of the story is that there is no sense of the past which invades the story in a very intensive way, it is more or less set in the present, it is about the thoughts and a few flashbacks, mostly in terms of thoughts that the protagonist has throughout this and there is a narrator who is named, he is Pablo that too we will get to know and there are two others were with him. We get to know about that in the second paragraph, there is Juan and Tom and they were being interrogated, they were being asked whether they were part of this international brigade and we also get to know that the story is set during the time of Spanish Civil War and this was in the 1930s and during this turbulent times they are caught as political prisoners and are being interrogated, they do run the risk of getting executed as well and this is the existential element over here. Sartre at some level wants to show us the dilemma of engaging with existentialism, the dilemma of engaging with life, even when one is faced with this reality of death, how concrete is this philosophy when one talks about existentialism and talks about death and when death is such an imminent thing and as the story progresses, we will get to know that three of them are Pablo, Juan and Tom. They are going to be executed, they are going to get killed the very next day, how would one respond to that, they are of course radicals, they are rebel , they are revolutionaries and they are the ones the interrogators think they hold secrets which could be extremely important in changing the course of the politics, the revolution, but look at how they respond and Sartre is very succinctly, very poignantly and in a very matter of fact, is drawing our attention to the innermost thoughts that these three men have and one thing is extremely important here. The narrator, the speaker he is perhaps narrating this from a later point of time, if you are familiar with the story, if you already read this, you would know what the ending is like and you would also know that narrator is still alive to narrate the story and this is extremely important because there is a certain kind of perspective that the story brings in and this necessarily need not tie-up with the many existentialist theories Sartre spoke about and this is one of the quarrels that many critics also had with the story that the ending did not really tie up well, it did not sit well together with the many things that Sartre wrote otherwise. So coming back to the story, we will read only certain excerpts to give you a sense of, how these characters, these three men are reacting, when they are faced with death when they are faced with this possibility of an execution awaiting them the following day. My brother Jose is the anarchist Juan said you know he is not here anymore, I do not belong to any party, I never had anything to do with the politics, look at the kind of denial and look at how the confidence and the revolutionary, rebellious, streaks going down when they are faced with something very, very existential, very, very real, they didn’t answer, Juan went on I have not done anything, I do not want to pay for somebody else, his lips tremble, the guard shut him up and took him away, it was my turn, your name is Pablo Ibbieta, yes, the man looked at the papers and asked me, where is Ramon Gris? Ramon Gris is a character, which will continue to be central throughout this, we will not get to see him, but also know that Ramon Gris becomes extremely important in changing the course of events, in changing the future itself of a Pablo Ibbieta, where is Ramon Gris. I do not know, you hid him in your house from the 6 to the 19th again deny, no, they wrote for a minute and then the guards took me out, in the corridor, Tom and John were waiting between two guards, we started walking, Tom asked one of the guards, so. (Refer Slide Time: 7:32) So what? Was that the cross-examination or the sentence, sentence guards said, what are they going to do with us, the guard answer dryly, the sentence will be read in your cell, so all of a sudden we realise that this three men they are just not in control of their lives, they have no idea what is happening, of course, they do know that what awaits them as something inevitable, it is almost dead, but at the same time, they seem to have lost complete control over their lives and they need to rely on the prison guards and the ones whom they see around them and the setting has entirely changed for them, from a revolutionary rebellious very, very political background that they came from, they find themselves being helpless very meek and awaiting orders and awaiting decisions to be taken for them. And this is something which I would say the very significant point that Sartre is trying to drive across and this extremely important given the context that these three men. They are also radical revolutionaries, who have been caught for the things that they did, they are being made accountable for what they did, they always had the liberty and the confidence to choose and act according to their will, but at this point when they are within that prison when they are within confinement. They realise that all kinds of freedoms being taken away from them, they are unable to make decisions for themselves and we also get to know that, the kind of willpower that they had presumably been displaying throughout whatever political period of activity that they had. We find that also dwindle,s they become different people all together and this shift and this radical shift is extremely important and it also tells us about this irrefutable power of human will and it also tells us about how contextual it is and how things can completely change your personality when you are taking out your familiar circumstance when you are taken out of those situations which allow you to bloom and these three men when they are there, this is how they begin talking about, it is hardly promising, it is hardly encouraging, they have nothing to look forward to the, do not have any optimistic faith in the future ahead. After a long moment, Tom said we are screwed, I think so too. I said that I do not think anything to the kid, they do not have a thing against him, said Tom, he is the brother of a militiaman and that is all, I looked at Juan, he did not seem to hear, you know what the n Saragossa? They lay the men down on the road and run over them with trucks, a Moroccan deserter told us that, they said it was to save ammunition. It does not save gas. I said, I was annoyed at Tom, he should not have said that you also get take a closer look at how these three men are responding, we almost get a sense that Juan possibly was not entirely involved in the many things that they were accused of, but Pablo and Tom they were in it all the way, but at the same time, Tom comes across as being more naive when he is definitely very, very scared, but Pablo though he is scared, he is trying to somehow evade that reality, he is trying to sound very matter of fact, he is trying to present himself as very, very calm, but we also get to know that inside he is also breaking and inside he is also wishing that the Tom had not spoken about this and that they did not have to deal with this at all. (Refer Slide Time: 11:12) So, very soon the sentence that they have had been a while waiting for, it arrives in this cell, around 8 p.m. a major came in with two Falangists, he had a sheet of paper in his hand, he asked the guard, what are the names of those three? Steinbock, Ibbieta and Mirabal, those are their surnames, the major put on his eyeglasses and scanned the list, Steinbock, Steinbock oh yes, you are sentenced to death, you will be shot tomorrow morning, he went on looking, the other two as well. That is not possible Juan said, not me, the major looked at him amazed, what is your name? Juan Mirabal, he said, well, your name is there said, the major, you are sentenced, I didn’t do anything, the major shrugged his shoulders and turned to Tom and me, you are Basque? Nobody is Basque, he looked annoyed, they told me there were three Basque, I am not going to waste my time running after them, then naturally, you do not want a priest? We did not even answer, he said a Belgian doctor is coming shortly, he is authorized to spend the night with you, he made a military salute and left. So this is it, now they are being, there are going to be sentenced to death, they are going to be shot the very next morning and he is asking about their religious requirements, whether they need a priest and how he initially thought that they were all Basques and he perhaps arranged for a priest accordingly, and now he also tells them that doctor has been arranging for just to make sure that nothing goes wrong at the end and now it is back to these three, they are having this conversation. (Refer Slide Time: 12:37) What did I tell you? Tom said, we get it, yes I said, it is a rotten deal for the kid, I said that to be decent, but I didn’t like the kid, I like this intervention, I like how this character Pablo is being made to open up in a very subtle but in a very, very real sense also, he is always trying to say the right things, he is always trying to put up a front, a brave front, sometimes a decent nice front, which he is not unfortunately and there are then these usual rituals in the prison where a doctor comes in, I am at your disposal, I shall do all I can to make your last moments less difficult, so all those routine prison rituals are also taking place. (Refer Slide Time: 13:19) And there are also certain ways in which the doctor is trying to comfort them, but it is not really going down well with them, and this is the segment, this is the paragraph where we get to know what Pablo is really, really, feeling. he never took his hard eyes of me, suddenly I understood that my hands went to my face, I was drenched in sweat, in this cellar, in the midst of winter, in the midst of drafts I was sweating, I ran my hands through my hair, gummed together with perspiration, at the same time I saw my shirt was damp and sticking to my skin. I had been dripping for an hour and had not felt it, but that swine of a Belgian had not missed a thing, he had seen the drops rolling down my cheeks and thought, this is the manifestation of an almost pathological state of terror, and yet felt normal and proud of being alive because he was cold, I wanted to stand up and smash his face but no sooner had I made the slightest gesture than my rage and shame were wiped out, I fell back on the bench with indifference. I satisfied myself by rubbing my neck with my handkerchief because now I felt the sweat dripping from my hair onto my neck and it was unpleasant. I soon gave up my rubbing, it was useless, my handkerchief was already soaked. (Refer Slide Time: 14:29) And I was still sweating, my buttocks were sweating too and my damp trousers were glued to the bench, so this is what Pablo, the speaker, the narrator is really, really feeling, he is now not thinking about politics, not thinking about Ramon Gris, he is not worried about the kid, he is only thinking about what awaits him, perhaps he is still too scared to spell it out and but we know from the way his body responds that this, that he is also feeling this itable end and the details which Sartre gives while describing the way his body responds is very, very important, it also tells us about how the body responded irrespective of the way the mind wants, the body and the mind to feel to stay strong and to not bother about things and to have a matter of fact approach. And these details being used now and then from now on, Tom is undoubtedly very, very disturbed and it also becomes evident to it at some point, that Tom is actually looking up to Pablo and when he sees a mirror image of himself and he realises this is set in, there is nothing to look forward to and look at this conversation between them, something is going to happen to us that I cannot understand that is Tom. (Refer Slide Time: 15:47) There was a strange smell about Tom, it seemed to me. I was more sensitive than usual to odours. I grinned, you will understand in a while, it is not clear, he said obstinately. I want to be brave, but first I have to know, listen, they are going to take us into the courtyard. Good. They are going to stand up in front of us, how many, I do not know five or eight not more, alright, there will be eight, he is trying to picture the scene between in his mind about what is going to happen, so that they are also thinking perhaps, these men they are also thinking if they know what awaits him, maybe they will able to better deal with it, maybe they will be able to deal with it better in their mind and then be ready for it when the moment actually comes. Alright, there will be eight, someone will holler aim, and I’ll see eight rifles looking at me, I’ll think how I’d like to get inside the wall, I will push against it with my back with every ounce of strength I have, but the wall will stay like in a nightmare. I can imagine all that if you only knew how well I can imagine it. Alright, alright. I said. I can imagine it too. Look at these conversations, Tom wants to go on, give the description, imagine and picture it vividly in his mind, but Pablo cuts him short like he will keep doing almost throughout. it must hurt like hell, you know they aim at the eyes and the mouth to disfigure you, he added mechanically, I can feel the wounds already, I have had pains in my head and my neck for the past hour, not real pains, worse. This is what I am going to feel tomorrow morning and then what? I well understood what he meant, but did not want to act as if I did, I had pains too, pains in my body like a crowd of tiny scars. I could not get used to it, but I was like him. I attached no importance to it, after I said, you will be pushing up daisies and this is perhaps the sweetest things that Pablo will ever say throughout the story, and he wants to think about the life after death and try to sound hopeful, one is not too sure whether he is saying his to make Tom feel nice, Tom is actually beginning to imagine what it would feel like tomorrow to be shoot from different angles by eight different rifles and he is also thinking about that wall, out of which he can never, never get out, the wall begins to signify death here. And the title also begins to make more sense from this point onwards and from now on, if you read on, there is a pattern in the conversations, Tom wants to go on and there is another fairly long paragraph, where he is talking about, it is a nightmare and how he is trying to imagine it, I see my corpse that is not hard, but I am the one who sees it with my eyes, I have got to think, think that I will not see anything anymore and the world will go on for others, we aren’t made to think that Pablo believes me. And we find that Pablo is almost losing patience, not because he cannot relate to that but because this is not something that he wants to think about at this point, shut up, I said, do you want me to call a priest? So we also get a sense of the kind of personalities and they are, maybe Pablo was always this kind, who would not talk nonsense, a very no-nonsense person who would just do his things right perfectly, will not mess things up and will be very, very matter of fact when he comes to when it comes to dealing with something. And look at him facing death also in the same way and now we also feel curious about whether Pablo will stay the same throughout because at some level, Tom looks as if he is more prepared to meet his end, Tom looks as if he is prepared to think about nothing, now but the end and the death which is going to be gruesome, which is going to be forgotten in no time, but we are not too sure whether Pablo is already dead and think about this as well Pablo is writing this from a point of time, which is later, this is his recollection. So one is not even sure whether there is a way in which he has filtered out certain things, whether he has given only that bit of it, which will perhaps continue to show him in a good light, there is no way of knowing that either and in between, we also get to know that Tom also loses complete control over his bladder, he is very, very scared and he has absolutely no control anymore about over his bodily functions, around this time there is a change which we find happening within Pablo. Fundamentally, I had not much sympathy for Tom and I did not see why, under the pretext of dying together, I should have any more, it would not have been different with some others, with Ramon Gris, for example, but I felt alone between Tom and Juan. (Refer Slide Time: 20:26) I like that better anyhow, with Ramon, I might have been more deeply moved, but I was terribly hard just then and I wanted to stay and we get to know here that Ramon Gris is someone with whom he obviously had shared a relationship more than just political coworkers, in more than just co-revolutionaries, but there is an emotional bonding as well and this is important in understanding the ending of the story, which is ironical and which is, which also gives us a glimpse into how little we have under our control and in the next few segments will also get to know that the Tom is gradual. But fairly steadily losing control over all his bodily activities, he is urinating and he is not even realizing that and Pablo is trying to draw attention to that but Tom has completely crossed over all of those boundaries of the appropriateness of propriety and he does not think about anything else other than the corpse, his own corpse that, he thinks he will see with his own eyes the very next day. (Refer Slide Time: 21:26) Now Pablo continues to have these thoughts all to himself, they are not really having a conversation, but he is having a lot of thoughts about life, about death and this is perhaps the most poignant thing that, he thinks about that night, and that moment I felt that I had my whole life in front of me and I thought, it is a damn lie, it was worth nothing because it was finished, I wondered how I had been able to walk, to laugh with the girls, I would not have moved so much as my little finger. If I had only imagined I would die like this, my life was in front of me shut, closed like a bag and yet everything inside of it was unfinished, for an instant, I tried to judge it. I wanted to tell myself, this is a beautiful life, but I could not pass judgement on it, it was only a sketch, I had spent my life counterfeiting eternity, I had understood nothing, I miss nothing, there were so many things I could have missed, the taste of manzanilla or the baths I took in summer in a little creek near Cadiz, but death had disenchanted everything. This perhaps is that moment when the reality of death really strikes him, very, very hard and this is a timing he gets to know that it is good that he never got to know that this is going to be the end, then perhaps he would never have been able to live life to its fullest extent and now when he is trying to in some ways evaluate his life, looking ahead, looking back, nothing makes sense, it was worth nothing because it was finished and even before it is finished, we get to know that Pablo is arriving at that moment when he realizes that it is really not worth it at all. And if this is not the crux of existentialism that Sartre is talking about nothing else could be and this is that moment where we find an active revolutionary an active political worker like Pablo who is they're stuck in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what the future holds for him, but just knowing the reality of that sentence and he is unable to make sense of his life, and that is all it takes for him to reevaluate his life, reevaluate the choice that he made, and then say that it was worth nothing, because it was finished. (Refer Slide Time: 23:37) Actually, I leave it to read the rest of the other details which are packed into the short story on your own, now I wanted to come to be ending of the story, so this is what happens in the morning, they are all awaiting sentence, so, read out to you the last segment, after half an hour the little fat man came back alone. I thought he had come to give the orders to execute me, the others must have stayed in the cemetery, the officer looked at me, he did not look at all sheepish. They came into the big courtyard with the others, he said, after the military operations our regular court decide will what happens to him. No, then they are not, not going to shoot me? Not now anyway what happens afterwards is none of my business, I still did not understand. I asked but why? He shrugged his shoulders without answering and the soldiers took me away. In the big courtyard, there were about a hundred prisoners, woman, children and a few old men. I began walking around the central grass plot, I was stupefied at noon they let us eat in the mess hall, two or three people questioned me, I must have known them, but I did not answer, I did not know where I was. Around evening they push about ten new prisoners into the court, I recognized Garcia, the baker, he said. What damned luck you have, I did not think I’d see you alhey sentenced me to death, I said, and then they changed their minds, I do not know why they arrested me at two o’clock Garcia said. (Refer Slide Time: 24:49) Why? Garcia had nothing to do with politics, I do not know, he said, they arrested everybody who does not think the way they do, he lowered his voice, they got Gris, I began to tremble when? This morning, he messed it up, he left his cousins on Tuesday because they argued. There were plenty of people to hide him, but he did not want to owe anything to anybody. He said I had to go hide in Ibbieta’s place, but they got him, so I will go hide in the cemetery. In the cemetery, yes, what a fool, of course, they went by there this morning, that was sure to happen. They found him in the gravedigger’s shack. He shot at them and they got him, in the cemetery, everything began to spin and I found myself sitting on the ground, I laughed so hard, I cried. There is nothing mysterious about ending, there is something which happens in between, in the middle of the story, which would also solve, this mystery for you, so I leave you with this, as we begin to wrap up this session, I also want you to pay attention to what had happened that changed the course of the story entirely and for this, I encourage you to go back to the story and read it again and put those missing part the missing links together, so that will make better sense when we come back to discuss the story. (Refer Slide Time: 26:05) And some of the elements which make it possible to read this story as a representative, text of existentialist theory and also as a masterpiece of narrative theory, many readers of Sartre, you should know this as when you read, proceed to read the story, they were both the admirers and the detractors, they tended to view the ending of the story as a flaw and in the next session when we discuss this in greater detail, we would also talk about why this was seen as a flaw and whether it is possible to have different interpretations and what is your take on it as well. (Refer Slide Time: 26:40) I leave you with this quote from Maurice Cranston, it is about the ending of the short story, now, although this is the short story which made Sartre’s name in France before the war, it is, in its general outline, the least characteristic of his works. The neat plot with the ironical twist at the end belongs to a tradition of fiction which Sartre specifically repudiates. Maupassant might have invented such a plot. It is a technique which is cultivated by what Sartre calls the bourgeois literature of consumption. As you go back to read the story, you would also read that the, you would also get to know that this is a highly readable story, this has a very neat narrative structure, and as I mention also, encourage you to go and see the ironical twist, the detail which makes this, with accentuates the irony of this twist towards the end, so as we come back in the next session to talk more about this, we will also talk about how the existentialist theories that Sartre speaks about in many of his other works, they do not really fit in over here and also more about how as a narrative piece of writing, how there are several techniques which brilliantly come together to make this, one of the finest short stories ever written. I thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing you at the next session.