Nausea Imagery

Paper (Visual and Tactile Imagery)

One of the things to disturb Antoine early in the novel is his inability to pick up a piece of paper from the street. He explains how normally he loves touching damp or yellowed paper, describing his love almost to the point of the reader’s discomfort. Later in the novel, he cuts his hand and bleeds onto the piece of paper he has written on. By the end of Nausea, paper may become a positive image, as he has decided to work on a novel.

Stones (Visual Imagery)

Stones and rocks appear throughout Nausea. Antoine’s attempt to play Ducks and Drakes with a stone, described in the undated pages, seems to be what causes his first attack of the nausea. Similarly, Antoine seems stuck on a memory in which he stares at a small, stone statuette. Later, he feels as if a “white milestone” is beckoning him forward. He also spends a great amount of time staring at the statue of Impetraz, which might make one think of stone, even though it is made of bronze. These stones all serve as reminders of the inert “things-in-themselves” which make up much of existence.

The Sea (Visual and Auditory Imagery)

The sea recurs as an image throughout Nausea. It appears at the beginning of the novel when Antoine throws a stone into the water and later as he explores Bouville. It is featured in one of the most aesthetically pleasing sections of the book, where Antoine reflects on the tide and the people by the sea. The scene is full of the sounds and sights of the seaside: the tide moving, people watching the waves, and a lighthouse. Antoine also sometimes used water-based metaphors, such as when he discusses Anny’s ability to create “dark little tides” in people’s hearts.

Color (Visual Imagery)

Antoine shows a special attention to color. When he goes to the Café Mably in the middle of the novel, he finds himself disturbed by the purpleness of the bartender's suspenders. Looking at the "absurd" root later in the novel, he thinks about how the root is not actually "black" and that the purple suspenders were not "purple." In neither case could language capture the visual phenomena of color.