Comparing Albert Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) and Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea

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Lack of Order in Albert Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) and Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea

Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre, and The Stranger, by Albert Camus, refuse to impose order on their events by not using psychology, hierarchies, coherent narratives, or cause and effect. Nausea refuses to order its events by not inscribing them with psychology or a cause for existence, and it contrasts itself with a text by Balzac that explains its events. Nausea resists the traditional strategy of including the past to predict a character's future. It instead focuses on the succession of presents, which troubles social constructions such as "stories" and "adventure." The Stranger resists traditional categories of order by not dividing Meursault's
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. .' 'That may well be, my dear, that may well be'" (48). The conversation is a disordered succession of statements, each lacking a clear justification for its content. Roquentin senses this same gratuitous existence when he holds a pebble a the seashore. He feels "a sort of sweetish sickness . . . a sort of Nausea in the hands" (10-11). The pebble exists without a function or justification, and the "nausea" is Roquentin's sense of its raw existence. Nausea chooses not to incorporate its events into a system of cause and effect by allowing their gratuitous existence.

Nausea refuses to use the traditional narrative strategy of describing the past in order to predict a character's future actions. The text includes few details about the past, refusing to discuss why Anny left Roquentin or what his adventures were. By not describing the past, it avoids the traditional strategy of using past events to predict a character's future. Roquentin recalls an evening with Anny because "we were desperate, she as much as I . . . [to] feel the minutes passing" (57). He thinks of the night in context of the "irreversibility of time," as an experience linked to his exploration of adventure (57). It does not enter because Roquentin feels guilt: he believes that leaving her that night "was a good job" (57). It does not probe why he "got up and left without saying a word to her" (57). Similarly, Roquentin's adventures enter only in terms of his…