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Garcin explains that he used to run a pacifist newspaper. When war broke out, he was troubled and did not know what he should do. In the end, he was shot; he leaves the impression he was killed for his beliefs. It is obvious that Estelle admires Garcin; Inez, however, is not impressed by Garcin's talk. She reminds the others that all of them are criminals who have landed in Hell. Estelle resents such talk and tells Estelle to keep quiet and not utter disgusting words. Inez calls her "a damned soul, a plaster saint." She claims that Garcin is no better. Garcin and Estelle are visibly upset by her rudeness, and Estelle naively thinks that she must have been sent to Hell by mistake.
In spite of their differences, Inez is still attracted to Estelle and asks her to sit on the sofa with her. She tells Estelle to ask her any question and promises to respond candidly. She also tells Estelle that she is lovely and that she would like to be best friends with her. Estelle responds that she does not make friends with women easily. In truth, Estelle is attracted to Garcin and wishes he would pay her attention. He, however, is not interested in either women or their silly chatter; he just wants to be left alone. He suggests that the best way for the three of them to tolerate each other is to live in silence so they will be able to think and not bother one another. Inez knows that this will be impossible. She has accepted the fact that the three of them have been placed together to torture each other.
Garcin looks back to earth and sees into the newsroom; he realizes that someone is saying ugly things about him. He demands them to be silent. Inez overhears him and reminds him that he has no control over what happens back on earth. As she looks at Garcin, she feels jealous that Estelle is attracted to him over her. She then watches as Garcin goes over to Estelle and fondles her neck, which Estelle pretends not to like.
Like on earth, she continues to be a flirt. She is also concerned about her appearance. She powders her face and mourns over the fact that she does not have a mirror so she can see herself.
In this scene, the characters continue their torture of one another. Inez longs for a relationship with Estelle, but she tells Inez that she has difficulty even being friends with females; she certainly has no desire to get involved with Inez. In truth, she is attracted to Garcin and wants him to notice her. She powders her nose and complains that she does not have a mirror in which to see herself. Garcin tries to ignore both women. He states that he wants to be left alone to think and sort things out. He tells the others that all of them should try to exist in silence. Inez, however, knows that this will be impossible, for they have been placed into the same room to torture one another.
Inez proves that she is the realist of the group. She reminds Garcin and Estelle that they are all criminals who have been condemned to Hell. Estelle resents her accusation, for she has tried to convince herself that she has landed in the underworld by mistake. Inez also reminds Garcin that he no longer has any control over what happens on earth even though he can see what is going on in the newsroom and with his wife. Inez understands that this ability to see what is happening on earth is another form of torture that they must all endure.
It is significant to note that there is no mirror in the room, which really upsets the self-centered Estelle. Since none of the three of them can see themselves, however, they will be forced to judge themselves by the opinions of the other two. This situation will add to their misery and torture. When Inez offers to serve as Estelle's mirror, Estelle is horrified at the thought. In truth, however, this is what will happen during the play. Inez is soon seen torturing Estelle by telling her she has a pimple on her face, that her hair is messed up, and that her make-up looks "diabolical." Since Estelle cannot see herself, she is forced to believe what Inez tells her.