Nausea Metaphors and Similes

Games (Metaphor)

On the Tuesday before he leaves Bouville behind, Antoine states, “I had lost the first round. I wanted to play the second and I lost again: I lost the whole game…” Antoine is using the metaphor of game-playing to suggest that life is a sort of game. This suggests, first, the way in which randomness or contingency informs life and second, the extent to which the “rules” of life are arbitrary. Both aspects of the metaphor support Antoine’s existentialism.

"As a tree..." (Simile)

In his final diary entry, Antoine writes that consciousness "exists as a tree, as a blade of grass. It slumbers, it grows bored…" Here he uses a simile to liken consciousness to plant life. This importantly brings out the object-like side of consciousness (the aspect which is in-itself) while still acknowledging the active, moving aspect of consciousness (the for-itself). This simile then helps to define Antoine’s concept of consciousness and show its dual aspects.

Fresh pulp of a paper (Metaphor)

Once Antoine sees a sheet of paper on the street: “I bent down, already rejoicing at the touch of this pulp, fresh and tender, which I should roll in my fingers into greyish balls.” He already "feels" this sheet, even without having touched it. Here the narrator shows how deeply he perceives even such a small detail of the surrounding world as a sheet of paper.

Existence like a stone (Simile)

While Antoine observes the paintings of the historical leaders of Bouville, he comes to the realization that he “existed like a stone…” This simile likens him to objects generally considered to be without consciousness, and it emphasizes the aspect of passive or inert existence (the being-in-itself) which Sartre thought most humans attempted to conceal from themselves.

A face like a mask (Simile)

While Antoine observes Doctor Rogé’s face in Camille’s, he likens the doctor’s face to one of the masks sold on Shrove Tuesday. This simile suggests the way in which the doctor’s appearance of authority is only an appearance, and it builds both on the motif of theatricality and Sartre’s exploration of class.