Nausea

by: Jean-Paul Sartre

Section 2

Summary Section 2

Roquentin's discussion about adventure with the Self-Taught Man also juxtaposes time and free will. Roquentin realizes that what people call "adventure," is nothing but an attempt to order time. He thinks that people attempt to live their lives as if they were telling a story, ironically demonstrating the futility of their free will. In effect, Roquentin says that the way that many people preface their stories already suggests what the end is going to be: "the story goes in reverse... we forget that the future was not yet there... he did not make his choice." Consequently, Roquentin sees that there is no beginning or end to any action, experience, or account. This is why he begins reading books in random sections--it does not matter where he starts, since the beginning and end are already implicit.

Roquentin's sudden realization that humans are unable to tame the flow of time leads him to understand that he has been a victim of self-deception. He believed that his "adventures" in the Far East were examples of his ability to see time pass before his eyes with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. He now thinks that this is impossible since the past does not exist. For example, he claims that an actual adventure would involve the "irreversibility of time." To actually see a woman grow old before one's eyes would suggest an ordered passing of time. However, in reality, everyone is trying to fool themselves into thinking that they control the passage of time, trying to catch it "by the tail."

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