Study Guide

Nausea Appearances

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Antoine basically believes in two things: stuff that exists and stuff that doesn't exist. No, not like "adorable kittens" (does exist) vs. "a delicious bowl of pea soup" (does not exist).

For him, the stuff that exists is what's physically real, like the objects he can see and touch. Other stuff like thought and personality aren't real, but are just abstract things invented by the human brain. Because of this, Antoine thinks that one of the most important things he can know about people is their appearance, since this is the part of them that actually qualifies as "real."

The guy judges books by their covers. Poor choice. If we judged Nausea on its cover, we might this it was a sweet book about a penguin.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Do you agree with Antoine's belief that appearance is the only "real" thing you can know about a person? Why or why not?
  2. How does Antoine cope with having a face that is ugly, according to what people have told him?
  3. How have Antoine's opinions about appearances affected his relationships with other people? Has the effect been positive or negative?
  4. Do Antoine's opinions about appearances change throughout Nausea or do they stay the same? Why?

Chew on This

In Nausea, Antoine Roquentin eventually becomes the victim of his own superficial attitude toward the world.

In Nausea, Sartre shows us that you truly can judge a book (and a person) by its cover.

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