Study Guide

Nausea Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Jean-Paul Sartre

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Stage 1: The Shadow

It's clear pretty early in the novel that our protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, is having a bit of a crisis. More specifically, he is worried that there might be no purpose to his life. That's why he decides to start writing a journal—the hope that he'll be able to look back on what he writes and find some sort of pattern that will give significance to his experience.

Stage 2: Things Seem to be Okay

Antoine is by no means fulfilled, but by gong to the library each day and working on his history of the Marquis de Rollebon, he seems to do a reasonably good job of keeping himself from total despair. He also likes to hang out in cafés and mingle with Sunday crowds to keep himself busy. Sounds like an awesome life to us.

Stage 3: Living Death

Surprise, surprise. It turns out that things aren't so great for Antoine. He eventually sees his history project as nothing more than a cheap distraction from the despair that underlies everything he does. If he needed to scratch and claw to survive, he might not think about these things so much. But the truth is that he has enough money to never work again, and he just can't find anything to justify his existence.

Stage 4: The Dark Power Triumphs

Eventually, Antoine's despair becomes so strong that he feels physically sick and goes wandering around the town of Bouville. He's on the verge of total mental collapse. The thought of committing suicide or stabbing someone in the face is starting to sound good to him, since he's willing to do anything to get rid of his sense of boredom and aimlessness. It's pretty clear that if this keeps up much longer, he's either going to hurt himself… or someone else.

Stage 5: The Revelation and Redemption (Sort of)

The time comes when Antoine's mind totally snaps and he believes that he has finally figured out the truth of all existence. He realizes that ultimately, human life is just an accidental by-product of existence and there's no higher reason behind it. Realizing this gives Antoine a sense of total freedom, since there is no Higher Power or principle guiding his life.

Antoine can do anything he wants. The problem, though, is that this realization comes with the realization that he is alone in a meaningless universe. He ultimately decides to write a novel because it might help him give shape to his past and to feel like he hasn't wasted his life. It's definitely not a happily-ever-after ending, but then again, how realistic would that actually be?

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