Study Guide

Nothing Defeat

By Janne Teller


Defeat in Nothing is a pretty high-stakes loss. To admit defeat to Pierre Anthon is not just to lose, it's to lose to the dude who's been spitting plum pits at you and telling you the best thing you could do for the world is die. It's not like losing a game of cards, it's like losing the game of life itself. Add a 7th grade mindset to that and you might as well have Wile E. Coyote standing beside you with a powder keg. Things get really ugly, really fast when your opponent is an existential nihilist.

Questions About Defeat

  1. Agnes and the rest of 7A feel briefly victorious when the international media turn them into art stars. Does celebrity create meaning? If not, is it an adequate replacement for meaning?
  2. If life has no meaning, can victory and defeat even exist?
  3. What does Agnes mean when she says their victory felt like defeat? How many people have to approve of something before it can be considered a victory, and how many have to disapprove before it can be considered defeat?
  4. If meaning is determined based solely on individual perception, are victory and defeat determined that way, too? If you perceive something as a victory that the rest of the world perceives as defeat, would the existentialists say it's still a victory based on the authenticity of your experience? How do you think Pierre Anthon would answer this question?

Chew on This

Pierre Anthon's death is a defeat.

Pierre Anthon's death is a victory.

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