I was reading through the openZeppelin contracts and saw the ReentrancyGuard contract, and realized I don't know how the EVM deals with these contracts.

Assuming you have a class:

contract someClass is ReentrancyGuard{

   function giveMeMyEther() external nonReentrant{
       //transfer ether from contract to sender;

What's happening with the nonReentrant modifier? It looks like multiple users would be overwriting each other's reentrancy locks all the time.

What I would expect is that it would modify the _status on someClass, which would (in effect) be a global lock on the contract. I would expect to need something more like mapping(address=>uint256) to track reentrancy per user.

Based upon its widespread use, I assume that I don't understand what's going on in the EVM.

Here's the code for the current reentrancy guard modifier for openZeppelin:

abstract contract ReentrancyGuard {
uint256 private constant _NOT_ENTERED = 1;
uint256 private constant _ENTERED = 2;

uint256 private _status;

constructor() {
    _status = _NOT_ENTERED;
modifier nonReentrant() {
    require(_status != _ENTERED, "ReentrancyGuard: reentrant call");
    _status = _ENTERED;
    _status = _NOT_ENTERED;


  1. How is status not overridden when multiple users call the function?
  2. How does the value of the _status persist between calls?
  3. Is there something else that the EVM is doing that I'm missing?

1 Answer 1


The EVM is a single-threaded Turing Machine, no other user can capture it before the current contract's code is done executing (or is aborted).

  • It looks like there's something called a fallback function which is called whenever a contract receives ether. Then this function is used to make a reentrant call back into the function. So, the _status persists between calls because the original function is still running (albeit lower on the stack). Combined with your answer about the EVM being single-threaded, it's starting to make sense.
    – Rolan
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 21:57

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