Study Guide

Nausea Mortality

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Hey, what's a good way to make a mopey philosophical treatise like Nausea even more mopetastic? Throw in some death.

When—like our man Antoine—you have a tough time believing in the meaning of human life, death is even grimmer than usual. Many people comfort themselves with the thought that they'll live on in the memories of their loved ones or through their accomplishments after they die. But not Antoine: he says this is nothing but a fantasy. You either exist or you don't. One day you're here, the next you're not. End of story.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Do you agree with Antoine about there being nothing left of you once you're dead? Why or why not?
  2. Does the thought of death make Antoine feel any more motivated to do something with the time he has, or does it mostly just depress him?
  3. Why is Antoine so quick to dismiss the idea that you can "live on" after your death? Is there any upside to this idea?

Chew on This

In Nausea, Sartre shows us the hard truth about death. We don't go anywhere when we die and it doesn't really matter whether anyone remembers us.

In Nausea, Sartre sometimes sympathizes more with the Self-Taught Man than with Antoine, and he suggests that Antoine needs to find some way of being more hopeful while there's still time.

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