Garcin was once a journalist in Rio de Janeiro. He claims to have been shot on the grounds of being a pacifist, but his dread of his own cowardice eats away at him throughout the play. He had a wife whom he treated like a dog: he would often stumble home drunk after a long night of womanizing, and once even brought a "half-caste" girl into his home as a sort of mistress. He was arrested while trying to flee the country after the war broke out, and was executed by a firing squad.
A beautiful Parisian lady, Estelle was married to a man many years older than she. Her lover tried to convince her to leave her husband, but he was poor and she would not comply. When she became pregnant with his child, she went with him to Switzerland and secretly gave birth there. In an act of vicious spite, she drowned the baby in the lake before her lover's eyes. As a result, he shot himself. When she first enters the drawing room, she immediately comments that the sofas are badly arranged and that she needs a mirror in order to apply her makeup. Slowly, she breaks down, pleading Garcin for his affection, hungering for a man.
A postal worker and the poorest of the three characters, Inez is a cynic through and through, and far less deluded than Estelle or Garcin. Never does she argue that her damnation was a mistake; never does she attempt to defend her misdeeds. A lesbian, she was once in love with a woman named Florence, whose husband was her cousin. She ran away with Florence, but the affair did not last long. One night, Florence turned on the gas and killed them both. Now Inez's attentions are focused on Estelle, but her attraction is thwarted by Estelle's own lust and Garcin's presence. When she does not get her way, Inez is capable of great cruelty; although she is no more malicious than the other characters, she nonetheless wields greater power because of her willingness to go for the jugular.
Prim and proper, he shows the three characters into the drawing room and promptly disappears, never to be seen again.
A friend of Estelle's who reveals Estelle's secret past to Peter.
A man in love with Estelle.
One of Garcin's compatriots. Time and again, Garcin tries to see what Gomez is saying about him.
Inez's love, and the woman who killed her.
No Exit Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for No Exit is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.