Sartre, Beauvoir, and the Resistance: An Authentic or Compromising Commitment to the Cause?

Student Author(s)

Natalie Woodberry

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Anne Larsen

Document Type


Event Date



After France’s Liberation in 1945, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were lauded as an influential couple who exemplified the Resistance movement. However, despite their contributions to the literary and philosophic resistance, their personal and professional lives were filled with ambiguous and compromising activities. Under the oppressive Vichy regime, the two philosophers were able to better formulate and promote their existentialist ideas though extreme wartime events. This paper will first briefly discuss the historical context of the two writers, the German occupation during World War II, and the Resistance. Second, this research will explore existentialist themes in a work from each author: Morts Sans Sepulture (1941) by Sartre, and Le Sang Des Autres (1945) by Beauvoir. The analysis will emphasize the inherent ambiguity which characterized the authors’ philosophies, writings, and even personal lives due to existentialism’s lack of an absolute moral compass.

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