Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 19

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Chapter 19


  • Antoine heads back into the Café Mably. There is no one around and the waiter forces him back into a dim corner because he's cleaning up.
  • The waiter picks up the phone and tells someone the café's owner hasn't come down from his apartment yet.
  • Antoine notices a couple sitting nearby. The woman asks the man to do up her shoelaces, even though they're already tired. The man makes a meaningless gesture under the table and touches her foot, satisfying her.
  • The couple leaves and an old woman enters, looking for the owner of the café. The waiter says that the owner hasn't come down yet.
  • The old woman looks up at the ceiling and wonders out loud if the café owner might be dead. The waiter thinks she's rude and tells her so. Still though, he seems half convinced by her guess and looks up at the ceiling himself.
  • After the waiter disappears, Antoine takes some time to wonder about what the owner would look like if he were lying dead up in his room, with a purple face and his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Creepy.
  • When the waiter returns, Antoine decides to be mischievous and tells him he heard choking and a thump. He thinks it's a good idea if the waiter checks on his boss, but the waiter is too scared to disturb the man—or maybe he thinks the guy is actually dead.
  • The waiter wants more info, but Antoine just walks out of the café and leaves him stressing out.
  • As he walks the streets, he finds that everything he looks at reminds him of death. He tells himself not to be silly and decides to head back to the town library.
  • As he enters the library, he runs into the Self-Taught Man, who seems really agitated. The head librarian walks nearby, and the STM doesn't seem to like him. He thanks Antoine for lending him the pictures from his many travels, then asks Antoine if he'll have lunch with him the coming Wednesday. Antoine accepts, though he doesn't have much interest in hanging out with the guy.
  • As he looks through his books, Antoine can only wonder about whether the owner of the Café Mably is alive or dead.
  • When he looks up from his reading after a while, he finds that the world doesn't look quite real. He feels like it's all made out of cardboard, like the set from a cheap TV show.
  • After trying to read for a while, he realizes that he won't be able to do anything until he finds out whether the owner of the café is dead or alive. He returns to the café but no one is there—not even the waiter.
  • He continues walking around and eventually sees a man in a cloak who has been hanging around the streets all day. From a distance, he sees this man approach a little girl with a smile and grab the edges of his cloak.
  • At this moment, Antoine realizes that the man is some sort of flasher. But the girl runs away before he can do anything.
  • Antoine comes up behind the man and shouts, "Hey!" at him. The man is scared, but Antoine just tells him that there's something evil in their city and walks away. It seems like Antoine gets a real kick out of leaving people with a lot of questions.
  • Back at the library, Antoine reads a novel until closing time. At seven o'clock, the librarian dude tells him and the three other people in the library they have to leave. No one gets up for the next while, though, because none of them have anywhere to go.

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