The Wall Questions and Answers
by Jean-Paul Sartre

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What's the symbolism of "the wall," and why is it the title of the story?

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In the short story "The Wall" by Jean-Paul Sartre, the titular wall symbolizes death. The story is about a man awaiting his execution at the hands of the fascists in Spain. The story is about awaiting death, as he thinks about his upcoming execution, and this is why it is the title. The prisoner, Ibbieta, awaits his death by firing squad and envisions himself standing in front of the wall in the adjacent courtyard. The prisoner describes the wall in the following passage:

They were going to slap a man up against a wall and shoot at him till he died...

One of his fellow prisoners, Tom, tells Ibbieta,

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.

The wall has a double meaning in this context. It refers to the actual wall in the courtyard that they expect will be the scene of the firing squad. It also...

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