Study Guide

Anny in Nausea

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Perfect Moments

When Antoine reminisces about his romantic relationship with Anny, the first thing he always remembers about her is the way she has always looked for "perfect moments" in life. You know, those moments where life is like a scene from a movie. A perfect kiss, perfect achievement, perfect sunset… Well, it seems like Anny has spent her entire life going after these moments.

But when she actually shows up in the book, she admits:

"I feel there are no more perfect moments. I feel it in my legs when I walk." (29.138)

It seems like the Anny Antoine remembers is dead and gone, and all that is left is a woman who thinks:

"I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion." (29.151)

Ouch. Oh, man: that is sad.

But Antoine isn't satisfied because he feels like he never really understood what a perfect moment was to begin with. Anny says that she used to think perfect moments were possible when she was working as an actress. But slowly, she realized that:

"[in] the end, [the perfect moment] wasn't anywhere, not on either side of the footlights, it didn't exist; and yet everybody thought about it." (29.249)

In other words, the perfect moment is something that we all tend to think is possible. We spend a ton of our time setting ourselves up for that perfect moment in life. But at the end of the day, Anny has decided that they just don't exist. If anything, she has started to feel—just like Antoine —that there's really no purpose to life. It makes Antoine sad to hear this, because he was hoping that Anny would be the person to pull him out of his sad thoughts. But in the end, time and experience has turned Anny into…

The Cynic

After half a life of searching for perfect moments and finding none, Anny has become jaded. She's not really looking for love or for anything meaningful anymore. She just wants to spend the rest of her days feeling comfortable. As she admits to Antoine:

"I'm not acting anymore. I travel. I'm being kept." (29.68)

In other words, she has quit working and has started going out with a rich older man who will pay for all of her expenses. She's a sugar baby. She also admits:

"I have changed in every way. I'm not the same person any more." (29.99)

When Antoine tries to make a case for why he'd be a good lover, Anny just scoffs at him and says:

"[…] for what people are worth, the first good-looking boy that comes along is worth as much as you." (29.273)

The comment really shows that she's not only cynical, but pretty superficial. Now to be fair, she might say this because Antoine has hurt her in the past. But at the end of the day, Anny can only sum up how she fells by saying:

"I outlive myself." (29.144)

In other words, her life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.

Anny in Nausea Study Group

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