Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 12

By Jean-Paul Sartre

Chapter 12

Sunday

  • Antoine goes for a Sunday walk, taking with him the copy of Eugénie Grandet by Balzac (the book he found opened in the library one day).
  • The town is calm for the time being, but he knows that soon enough, the streets will be filled with people looking in shop windows and hanging out after church.
  • Once the people come out of mass, he likes blending in with them and watching them raise their hats to one another.
  • The road he walks on is called the Rue Tournebride. He knows that the road has only recently gained importance because it's not even mentioned on earlier maps of Bouville. For the next while, he lays out the history of how the town decided to build its main church at the head of this street, thus making it the busiest and most important street in the city on Sundays.
  • In short, the street got totally gentrified and all of the old lower class stores and houses got pushed out by newer, fancier ones.
  • He realizes that he's standing next to the head of the town's Chamber of Commerce, and everyone tries to speak to the guy nicely because he's powerful and intimidating. He can hear people whispering about the man as he walks away.
  • Slowly but surely, the Sunday crowd starts to die down. Antoine ducks into a restaurant to kill some more time.
  • Some of the old men in the bar exchange some jokes with the waitress. Antoine recognizes most of the restaurant's customers, since he spends most of his time wandering around the town.
  • He decides to sit down and start reading some of his novel. We get a bit of the passage he's reading before he's distracted by one of the men talking nearby.
  • The young husband is talking to his wife about a friend named Suzanne who went to see a guy named Victor. Then the guy gets sidetracked and talks about how the restaurant has gone downhill in recent years.
  • The two of them talk at each other without really understanding each other. Finally, they get back to the topic of Suzanne, with the woman saying that she's a "respectable woman." The insinuation seems to be that Suzanne has slept with this Victor character.
  • To convince his wife, the man whispers a story into her ear. She seems scandalized and covers her mouth.
  • After a few more attempts at reading, Antoine closes his book and gets up to leave. He rejoins the Sunday crowds milling around outside and gives some nice poetic descriptions of his surroundings.
  • While starting out at the sea and listening to people talk, he suddenly feels his heart swelling with a sense of adventure.
  • Something interesting is going to happen to him. He can just feel it. But after walking around for a long time, he begins to doubt whether something will happen to him.
  • He enters the Café Mably and looks toward the cashier. He feels like she has been waiting for him. For a moment, he feels totally happy.
  • But before we know it, he's back on the streets and feeling nothing but bitter regret. Looking around, he can see everyone dispersing. Sunday has ended, and now he has to return all alone to his apartment.

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