Monday, September 03, 2007

Reader's Diary #285- Jean-Paul Sartre: The Wall

Short Story Monday

Initially, Jean-Paul Sarte's "The Wall" reminded me of Chekhov's "The Bet." After reading both stories for the first time, the endings seemed disappointing, almost irrelevant to the preceding stories. I found it very hard to shake the feeling that the story format was an inconvenience, like they wanted to wax philosophical but had to wrap their thoughts in fiction to reach a larger audience.

I've since lightened up on the Sartre story. The story of three prisoners taken during the Spanish Civil war, the wall was where each man was to face the firing squad. It thus becomes a symbol for any impending death.

With their impending deaths, Sartre uses the three prisoners to highlight the various psychologies of men in such circumstances, the most interesting of these being that of the narrator, Pablo Ibbieta (though arguably, had Sartre decided to write from the vantage point of the others, either one could have been equally as fascinating.) Pablo begins to question the life he had led and the meaning of his past existence, almost as if it had all been a colossal joke. It isn't until the end, however, that he's presented with a punchline and finds any humour in life. He laughs so hard he cries.

I wouldn't rank it among my favourite short stories, but it was better than I first realized.

I'm again reminding my fellow bloggers that if you, too, write a short story post, please consider submitting the link to me at jmutford [at] hotmail [dot] com to use in my short story themed Bookworms Carnival coming up in November. September's carnival will be hosted by Book Nut. Her theme is classics. If you've written a post about classic literature, or would like to, consider submitting your post link to her: mmfraf [at] sbcglobal [dot] net before September 14th. Also in an attempt to lure other people on board for Short Story Mondays, I've decide to place Mr. Linky below for the next few editions. If you want to post about a short story today, feel free to advertise your link here by signing up! What's your story?

Update: Mr. Linky has now moved on, but thanks to Raidergirl for her contribution, a post about Stephen King's short story "Autopsy Room Four." Hopefully next week a few other people will jump on board as well. These first few runs will just be a trial basis anyway.

3 comments:

allison said...

I'm really enjoying short story mondays, even if I don't always comment. You put up the link to some Kafka reads a while back and I got much use out of it, I think I just have one more left to read from that bunch. So thanks!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's great that you are celebrating the short story. I feel like going back and rereading some of my favourites.

John Mutford said...

Allison: Glad I could help! Any favourites from the lot?

Barbara: Yeah, I figure it's a pretty neglected genre despite most people claiming to enjoy them.