Existentialism Is a Humanism


Jean-Paul Sartre

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The Jesuit in the Prison Camp Character Analysis

Sartre uses the anecdote of a man he met in a German prison camp to demonstrate that people are responsible for the way they read “signs” in their environments and lives. The man went to Jesuit school, failed in a number of secular endeavors, and decided that those failures were proof that he ought to live as a Jesuit. Sartre asks why the man decided his failures signaled a religious calling; he could have seen these events as signaling anything at all, or as pointing to another path altogether, such as being a revolutionary or a carpenter. Therefore, interpreting a sign is a choice, not proof of fate.
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The Jesuit in the Prison Camp Character Timeline in Existentialism Is a Humanism

The timeline below shows where the character The Jesuit in the Prison Camp appears in Existentialism Is a Humanism. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Existentialism Is a Humanism
Abandonment and Atheism Theme Icon
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Existentialism and Its Critics Theme Icon
To illustrate his point about “signs,” Sartre tells the story of a man he met when he was detained in a German prison camp. The man was given... (full context)