Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 22

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Chapter 22


  • Antoine has apparently decided to stop working on his Rollebon book. But that just begs the question of what he's going to do with the rest of his life.
  • Staring down at stuff that was written by Rollebon himself, Antoine realizes that none of the words mean anything. They don't succeed in preserving Rollebon as a person. He's dead now, which means he might as well have never existed.
  • With his decision made, Antoine feels like he's going through a bad breakup. He and Rollebon have needed each other for the last while. Antoine needed Rollebon to give him a sense of purpose; Rollebon needed Antoine to help him continue to exist, albeit in history. With his Rollebon project abandoned, Antoine feels that there is nothing left to justify his life.
  • He lays his hand on the table, palm up, and feels like it's a dying crab.
  • He suddenly wishes he could turn off his thinking. But he realizes that his thoughts are him… whether he likes it or not. He has no existence outside his thoughts.
  • Glancing at a knife on a table, he starts fantasizing about stabbing himself and doing himself general harm. It's around this time that you might think he should call the existential crisis hotline.
  • He goes ahead and stabs his hand, making a small cut. His blood trickles onto the paper of his diary.
  • He picks up a newspaper and reads about a missing local girl whose body has finally been found. It sounds like the person who killed her has gotten away. He also finds out that the murderer raped her before killing her. All that Antoine can think about while reading this, though, is how Lucienne no longer exists and he does.
  • He goes for another one of his walks and wonders for a while more about his right to exist. While walking, he thinks about little Lucienne and how she's gone now but he still exists. He also starts thinking about a lot of sexual images, trying to figure out how sex and birth is connected to existence like normal objects are, like chairs and tables.
  • To calm himself down, he thinks about some lines from a song called, "I dream my little dream." But the woman he remembers from the record of this song doesn't exist, he tells himself. All that exists are sound waves being produced by a record. There is no "woman" behind the voice he hears, because that woman doesn't exist anymore.
  • He feels that the only thing he has going for him is his mind, which is very specific in determining what exists and what doesn't.

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