Summary Of The Book
The Age Of Reason is based on Sartre’s existential notion of freedom. Existentialism is a branch in philosophy which is concerned with an individual’s existence. According to this school of thought, thinking, feeling, and acting, all begin with the individual subject. This is what gives meaning to life.
Through the choices, dialogues, and psychologies of the characters in the book, Sartre demonstrates how individuals with this philosophy operate in society. Sartre’s story is set in the 1930s, and occurs over a time period of two days.
Mathieu Delarue, a philosophy teacher, is the protagonist of Sartre’s The Age Of Reason. Freedom and being free are the hallmarks of Delarue’s lifestyle. Things go awry when his mistress Marcelle becomes pregnant. Delarue is plunged into a quandary. He contemplates whether giving up his freedom and existential-type life is more important than having a baby. Delarue decides that his freedom is more valuable, and so he urges Marcelle to get an abortion. To further complicate matters, the shadows of World War II begin to loom.
Delarue requires around 4,000 francs in order to have the abortion procedure done. As he tries to gather the money from his friends and family, Marcelle realizes that she wants to have the baby after all. Daniel, a homosexual character in the story, tries to convince her to marry him, just so that she could have her baby. He also secretly desires to see Delarue’s downfall. Even Delarue’s older brother refuses to lend him the money for the procedure, but offers him more than double the amount to wed Marcelle. Delarue’s brother also reminds him that he is no longer youthful and therefore has attained the age of reason. This leaves Delarue wondering whether attaining the age of reason means losing his freedom.
Through Delarue, Sartre forces readers to explore the idea of what it means to achieve freedom from notions such as conformity, material attachments, responsibilities, and even others’ expectations. Although the notion of freedom might mean different things to different people, the notion might simply be an abstract one rather than something that truly exists.
The Age Of Reason was first published in 1945.
About Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre was an existentialist philosopher, author, playwright, and political activist, from France.
He wrote numerous pieces of literature during his lifetime. Some of these titles were The Henri Martin Affair, Witness to My Life