Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 7

By Jean-Paul Sartre

Chapter 7

5.30

  • Now all Antoine is telling us is that things are very bad for him. He is suffering from what he calls "the Nausea," which apparently struck him without warning while he was hanging out in a café. He had been in the café looking for sex with Francoise, but the waitress said the woman was shopping in town.
  • The Nausea took over as soon as the waitress asked for his order. He dropped into his seat and just saw colors swirling around him. He even wanted to throw up.
  • His neck feels like rubber and he finds that he can only move his eyes but not his head. The bartender is wearing colors that clash (blue and purple), and the visual is enough to make Antoine sick.
  • What is especially strange about this scene, though, is that Antoine says that the Nausea he feels isn't something coming from inside himself. Rather, he says, "The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me" (7.10). The Nausea comes from the world, not him.
  • While he's suffering, he hears people near him playing a game of cards. He calls out to the waitress to play one of his favorite records, hoping that it will help calm him down. It's an old ragtime song that he remembers American soldiers singing during the First World War.
  • As he listens to the record, he begins to feel warm and happy.
  • He goes into a trance, thinking about all the traveling he's done and how it has led him into a little café to spend the evening with old men playing cards. He plans to go to the movie theatre later that night.
  • He goes out into the street to kill time until the show. He loves how cold it is, feeling like the night is somehow purer with no one else on the streets and with everything so cold.
  • But right on cue, a couple appears in the street in front of him to ruin his solitude. It's a man and woman arguing, with the man commanding his wife to keep her mouth shut.
  • He realizes when he gets closer that the woman arguing with the man is Lucie, the woman in his building who is having an affair. The dude is no doubt her younger mistress (or man-stress). The woman is miserable because the guy wants to walk out on her.
  • Even though he realizes how miserable she is, Antoine just turns and walks away, feeling what he calls, "a little empty purity" (7.66).

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