Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sartre's Wall

In 1939, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a short story titled, "The Wall." It takes place in Franco's Spain, and concerns a group of men about to be executed as anarchists - against a prison wall.

"Something is going to happen to us than I can't understand."

There was a strange smell about Tom. It seemed to me I was more sensitive than usual to odors. I grinned. "You'll understand in a while."

"It isn't clear," he said obstinately. "I want to be brave but first I have to know. . . .Listen, they're going to take us into the courtyard. Good. They're going to stand up in front of us. How many?"

"l don't know. Five or eight. Not more."

"All right. There'll be eight. Someone'll holler 'aim!' and I'll see eight rifles looking at me. I'll think how I'd like to get inside the wall, I'll 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."

"All right, all right!" I said. "I can imagine it too."

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