Divisions in Exit West

In Hamid’s society, borders set by governments or created by oceans or mountains can be overlooked. Because of the doors, the process of migration is sped up, and countries cannot build walls or physically keep migrants out. Hamid highlights the prevalence of xenophobia and shows humans’ tendencies to divide through his accelerated migration.

When Nadia and Saeed are in London, England, the natives and the migrants are very clearly divided. England attempts to enforce their laws upon the migrants and violently threatens them. The natives believe that the migrants will diminish something about their country. They feel threatened by all the people pouring into their city, and reject the newcomers.

Divisions are created not only between natives and migrants, but within the migrant community as well. In London, the migrants divide themselves up by national affiliations. Saeed and Nadia end up living around the Nigerians, and Saeed feels uncomfortable because of the unfamiliarity of all these people have something in common that he does not. He eventually finds people from his own country and gravitates towards them, finding comfort in their similarity to him, even though they are more stranger to him than the Nigerians are now.

Whether it is the non migrants reacting to the migrants or the migrants reacting to each other, the fear of being isolated and singled out creates divisions in society.

4 thoughts on “Divisions in Exit West

  1. Marissa K.

    I thought it was interesting that the government’s first reaction to the flood of migrants coming through the doors was to get them to go away. They didn’t bother trying to understand why and from where the migrants were fleeing. The began the confrontation as hostile, which I think fed into the xenophobia.


  2. Isabelle M

    This is very true–I noticed the same thing happening in the camps that Saeed and Nadia were living in when the migrants would form factions based on their country of origin. It’s interesting that pretty much everyone in the story wanted to distance themselves from people who were different from them, even among the displaced refugees.


  3. mfriedman62

    This is an interesting observation of the segregation of migrants by migrants. The differences between them do not unite them which does seem a bit surprising, but it does contribute to what you mentioned in the last sentence. The tendency of humans to alienate the “other” is all too common and detrimental to to progression of society. Your example of them in England and being grouped with Nigerians, despite Saeed being uncomfortable is a key example of this.


  4. RYAN M

    I agree that these divisions were an important part of the book but I also thought that the fact that Nadia was comfortable and even excited by the differences in London said something else about the nature of human relationships. Although the tendency was for most people to conform, it seemed like some people were more able to create meaningful relationships across these boundaries than others.


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