Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 33

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Chapter 33

One hour later

  • Antoine's train leaves in two hours. He feels like his brain has fallen into total oblivion and he loves it.
  • Now, whenever he uses the word "I," he feels like it's hollow. He doesn't know what he means when he says "I."
  • He thinks about the STM walking around the same city, banished and humiliated because of who he is. He wonders if the guy is going to kill himself… but doesn't seem to care much one way or the other.
  • He walks into the bar at the train station and tells the female owner (his casual sex partner) that he's leaving Bouville. She offers him a drink on the house and says goodbye. Just like that. It's not a ringing endorsement for the depth of human connections in this book. Antoine, though, lies and says he'll come back to see her.
  • At the back of the room, a heavy man who's been sleeping with Francoise most recently calls her back to him.
  • He remembers that once he's in Paris, he'll need to find some new way of giving meaning to his life.
  • In the bar, he asks the waitress named Madeleine to play his favorite record one last time before he goes. She puts it on. While listening to the song, he thinks about the person who wrote it, and how that person doesn't exist anymore. He wonders about his own life and how little it will mean once he has stopped existing (i.e. died).
  • The chorus of the song kicks in, and he listens as the singer sings, "Some of these days/ You'll miss me, honey" (33.49).
  • When the song ends, he asks Madeleine to play it again. Listening to the music, he feels a feeling of joy brush up against him. He won't move because he's afraid of ruining the moment.
  • He wonders if he might try to do something artistic that will create the same feeling that this song creates for him. It needs to be a book, but not a history book, since there's no point in talking about people who don't exist anymore.
  • He doesn't like the thought of writing the book, but he likes the thought of having it finished. He even hopes that the book—a fiction, an adventure—could shed some sort of light on his past. Then, he might be able to look back on his life without feeling sick about it.
  • And then, maybe then, he feels he might be able to accept himself for who and what he is.
  • With that, he looks up to his former home—the hotel Printania—and sees lights go on in two rooms.
  • He can tells from the smells around him that it'll rain the next day.
  • And that's the note he ends on. It's about as hopeful as Antoine is going to get, so we'll have to take it. The guy has decided that life is meaningless, but he also thinks that by writing a novel, he'll be able to give some sort of shape to his past that will make it easier to live with. In this case, the meaningless of life is actually a positive thing because it motivates Antoine to create art.

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