Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was the leading proponent of existentialism. Existentialism is rather abstruse, but a careful study of "The Wall" gives us insights into the philosophy and the man who wrote it.
"The Wall" tells the story of three men in a prison cell during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The men were captured fighting against Francisco Franco's fascist army. Sartre, a Marxist, identified with the men's cause because Marxists fought against fascists during this war.
Existentialism is concerned with the nature of existence itself. The three men, told they would be executed the next morning, had to face this issue. They had to confront dying and how that reality shaped everything they had experienced during their lives.
Another central tenet of existentialism is choice. In The Wall , one prisoner, Pablo, is asked where Ramon Gris is hiding. Pablo is put into a laundry room for 15 minutes to think it over. This illustrates the importance of choice. Should Pablo tell to save his...
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