Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 32

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Chapter 32

Wednesday, My last day in Bouville

  • Antoine claims that he has spent the entire day looking for the Self-Taught Man. He can't find him anywhere, though. He then drops a reference out of nowhere about the Self-Taught Man having a strong affection for "young boys" (32.1).
  • Wait… what?
  • Antoine goes on to say that the STM's dreams of connecting with other people and teaching himself everything in the library has crumbled.
  • All he can think about is the STM's face and his bloodstained collar. Something has obviously happened to this dude that we need to learn more about.
  • Earlier in the afternoon, he decided to go to the Bouville library one last time. He returns a few books and hangs around for a while.
  • He sits down and a woman sits down next to him. Later in the afternoon, the Self-Taught Man comes into the library. Antoine thinks about shaking hands and saying goodbye to him, but doesn't because he feels like their last meeting didn't end so well.
  • A bit later, two boys from the local high school with book bags come into the room and sit down. They grab a dictionary and go to sit down directly beside the Self-Taught Man. The STM seems to ignore them at first, but Antoine can tell that something bad is about to happen.
  • He looks up from his newspaper a bit later and sees the STM staring at the boy beside him and talking. But he looks around nervously every few seconds. The boy seems to be completely engrossed in whatever the STM is saying.
  • Antoine can see what's coming and knows that he can stop it before it does. But he just stays where he is.
  • Antoine notices that the woman beside him and the librarian are both staring at the STM. Fifteen minutes later, the STM sticks out his finger and starts stroking the palm of the boy beside him.
  • Antoine tries to cough loudly to warn the STM that he's being watched. But the STM can't help himself anymore. He closes his eyes and gives in to his enjoyment. His free hand disappears under the table.
  • Suddenly, the librarian starts shouting. He calls the STM a sicko and says he's going to have the guy thrown in jail. The STM argues back that he's been coming to the library for a long time, as if that somehow entitled him to hit on high school boys. As the argument escalates, the woman beside Antoine also turns on the STM and calls him sick.
  • Finally, the librarian punches the STM in the face and gives him a bloody nose. It turns out the librarian has seen the STM doing this sort of thing before, which explains why we heard earlier in the book about the two of them having problems with each other.
  • Antoine gets up and grabs the librarian, wanting to break him in two. But he eventually lets him go. He doesn't know why.
  • The librarian banishes the STM from the library, thus ending his attempt to read through everything alphabetically.

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