Why Accpeting Refugees is a Win for All

Refugees are an often disputed topic around the United States during a non-pandemic year. Whether to let them in or not. Hotly debated, many want to let refugees in, but just as many want to keep them out. However, despite what many refugee opposers believe, refugees are not a burden to the United States, but they are crucial to helping the country grow in many ways. Accepting, protecting, and empowering refugees is beneficial to the refugees and this country.

The United States allowing refugees in is a win for the refugees for apparent reasons. The earlier a state commits to protecting refugees, the earlier they can move forward with their lives without uncertainty blocking the way. Most importantly, accepting them into the country defends the most precious right of all, the right to live. Turning backs on the refugees in many cases could be fatal for them. Thus, accepting refugees and providing the most basic protection could be lifesaving.

Accepting refugees is also a win for the receiving country, such as the United States, and the communities that host them. By providing them with the right to work, health, and education, refugees can start productive lives in their host countries. The faster they can integrate into the labor force, the faster they can become productive members of society.
The origin countries also benefit from this cycle of migration. The nations of origin benefit from creating business networks between them and the countries where the refugees resettled. For countries overcoming conflict, the flow of new income and investment could be crucial for recovery. In addition to these business relationships, refugees can significantly transfer technologies and knowledge back to their home countries, which creates more competitive and diversified economies.

Lastly, much of the concern with refugees immigrating to a new country is job opportunities for citizens. However, that should not be a concern. Migration economists agree that more foreigners in the labor force do not hurt natives. Mostly because natives and foreigners typically have different skills and compete for other jobs. Foreigners are also more inclined to take the jobs native citizens do not want.

In the end, although there is opposition on whether or not to let refugees in, it should not be under debate. It is beneficial to all sides, and it can change someone’s life forever.

The Media and its Role in Understanding the Other

As technology has become increasingly prevalent in the last few decades, the media has risen to a powerhouse that controls the information that citizens receive. The media plays a crucial role in the portrayal of the “global other” and needs to understand said role in order to accurate represent the underrepresented.

In recent years, the media has begun to include more voices and stories about people who might be considered “others” in America, due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, or birthplace. This inclusion comes with some contingencies however. The media has a job to accurately portray domestic and global situations, and in representing the “global others,” the media must do them justice and reflect the struggles that other people encounter.

What Makes a Person A Native?

The novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid expresses a dilemma; what makes someone a native to their country? One idea the story seems to convey is that every human is a migrant- we all move around through time. When Saeed and Nadia have arrived in Marin, California, it seems that there are no true natives left in the town. The text states, ” ..nativeness being a relative matter, and many others considered themselves native to this country..”(197). Being native to a country doesn’t seem to have a true meaning. Some would say they are native if they were born in the country they reside in, their ancestors grew up on the land, or their genes are directly descendant of the slaves that were brought to the land. Hamid seems to not have a true definition of what being a native means, because it means something different to everyone.

Hamid argues that we are all migrants, because the world is always changing, even if we stay in the same place our whole lives. On page 207, an old woman is introduced. She has lived in the same place her whole life, yet she feels the neighborhood has changed so much over time that she has moved as well. The text states, ” when she went out it seemed that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same house our whole lives, because we can’t help it” (209).

So the question is, if we are all migrants, is anyone a true native, and what makes a person a native?


How do we define the “other”? Is it by the color of their skin, the language they speak, the place that they call home? Or is it by the stories that they share, the experiences they’ve had, who they are?

In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid takes the stance that we are all the “other”. On page 197, he states that “nativeness [is] a relative matter”, yet on page 209 he confirms that “we are all migrants through time.” It is hard to see the way in which one can hold both of these beliefs, but Hamid does so.

Because the “other”, like nativeness, is relative. There is no “us”. Every person is alone in one way or another. We are all migrants, so none of us are. We can relate to one another because of the shared groups that we cannot relate to.

There is no mutual recognition when it comes to the “other”. This is because we only become ourselves when the “other” becomes part of “us”. We find ourselves through the people we are grouped with, not the people we are pitted against. And in a world where everybody is a migrant, we can, at any point, be grouped with those people that were once the “other” to “us”.

Migration, Longing, and Food

As I read Exit West, I am concurrently working on a research project on the history of the vertical spit, a cooking method that was invented in mid-19th century Turkey and spread around the world. In a way, the story of the vertical spit is a story of immigrants: Turkish immigrants in Germany, Lebanese immigrants in Mexico, Greek immigrants in Chicago. With each relocation, some adaptation or some new tradition arose as the original doner kebab transformed into shawarma and tacos al pastor and gyros, while the vertical spit remained constant. I would theorize that such innovations arise for the same reasons that Saeed began to intensify his prayer habits once he left his home city: we search for reminders of our past life, adapting as necessary to regain what we felt we have lost. As people migrate to new places, ingredients and recipes may alter, but the core of a traditional doner kebab stays the same because it reminds one of home. The evolution of food (especially the foods of the United States) is a product of the same longing for what was left behind that Hamid wishes to illustrate using the magical doors. It is a product of hardship, not just of the place one has left, or of the journey to somewhere new, but the hardship of starting over and leaving a life behind.

The Weight of Potential Regret

While reading Exit West it had a lot of similarities to the short film “La Loteria”. In “La Loteria” a man who just won the green card lottery must decide between going on his own and marrying his girlfriend so she can come with. Within the short 8 minute film, the couple grapples with their emotions for one another as they approach the date of their wedding. Ultimately, the two decide to get married so they can go to the United States.

Similarly, in Exit West Nadia and Saeed have to figure out if they should marry (65). Nadia, being put on the spot, must figure out if (or how much) she loves Saeed. Nadia ends up staying with Saeed and his father after the death of his mother, which leads to her and Saeed leaving together. At this point I think that Nadia has to convince herself that she is in love with Saeed so that she will not disappoint him or his father. The idea that she should not be with him would be too catastrophic to their current situation, and this is why she stays with him. Once they get to Marin, Nadia and Saeed both recognize that there are no repercussions if they were to separate at this point. Much like “La Loteria” their upcoming move is what is keeping them together not their love for each other.

A Migrant’s Journey

The protagonists of Exit West, allow readers to discover the journey that migrants have to face. Nadia and Saeed make the decision to leave their city to seek safety when a war breaks out. The novel states, “. . . for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.” (98). Nadia and Saeed realize that they can never return to their home and their family once they leave.

Their first stop after leaving their home is Mykonos, Greece. Nadia and Saeed expect to find safety there because there is no war taking place in Mykonos. They both state, “. . . they decided that Mykonos was indeed a beautiful place, and they could understand why people might come here. Sometimes they saw rough-looking groups of men and Saeed and Nadia were careful to keep their distance. . .” (113). Although they have left their old war-stricken home, they realize that Mykonos doesn’t provide them the safety that they require. While they have left their home for protection, they still have yet to discover safety.

Then Nadia and Saeed leave for London and find a nice home. Although they rest comfortably in their new city, they discover that violence follows them. Nadia and Saeed claim, “. . . but many of the migrants in dark London had taken to carrying knives and other weapons, being as they were in a stage of siege, and liable to be attacked by government forces at any time. . .” (150). The characters once again discover violence increasing between migrants and natives. Their search to find safety starts again, as they leave for a new home.

After moving to 2 different cities for shelter, they only find sanctuary when they reach Marin, San Francisco. The novel writes, “But there was nonetheless a spirit of a least intermittent optimism that refused entirely to die in Marin, perhaps because Marin was less violent than most of the places its residents had fled. . .” (194). Nadia and Saeed have finally completed their migration journey after visiting 2 different countries. They have finally found a decent home in Marin despite its flaws. Marin, San Francisco provides them safety even though its not wealthy. Nadia and Saeed have finally escaped the violence after a long journey.

Migrants struggle to make the decision to leave their home and family all for the sake of safety and a brighter future. Many people do not acknowledge the long journey of migration and that it is not a journey of point A to B. Migrants like Nadia and Saeed have to move from one country to another just to find a decent home. The journey for migrants is long and exhausting and Exit Novel highlights the struggle migrants goes through.

Together as The “Others”

The novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid highlights the unity that forms among migrants. Hamid emphasizes the fact that it is not each individual migrant against the world, it is all migrants against the world. They form a bond, which is created by having similar struggles and lives that they need to leave behind. As Nadia and Saeed leave his father behind as they travel, it is described as, “When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind” (98). This is not a common occurrence, it is something tragic that connects those who can relate to it. Migrants leave their home, their family, their entire past life and often can never return.

Due to this connection through trauma, it is shown throughout the novel that migrants stick together and fight for each other. One example of this is when the police showed up to the house Nadia and Saeed were staying at with other migrants. The police asked them to leave the house until “Other people gathered on the street, other dark- and medium- and even light-skinned people” (128). These people bonded together and made a racket until the police decided to withdraw. This is an important event that shows the power of people of all different backgrounds and skin colors coming together and standing up for each other. Another example is when they have to decide what to do as people become more hostile and scared of the large groups of migrants coming in. One option included “A banding together of migrants…cutting across divisions of race or language or nation, for what did those division matter now” (155). This perfectly emphasizes how migrants do not fight for themselves, they fight for each other. They are all “others” in their new locations and their previous distinctions are put aside. The quote continues and states, “The only divisions that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them passage” (155). The migrants recognize that to survive and be successful, they must work together. This unity is present in Exit West and in the real world when migrants stand together as one against the rest of the world.

What makes a home a home?

In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid the story of Saeed and Nadia’s migration story and how it differs for the two very unalike people. Nadia’s past life experiences, moving to live on her own, being open for moving through door to door despite having to “murder from our lives those we leave behind” (98) allow her to find a home easily. Contrasting from Saeed who once going through the door “wished maybe to reverse course and return through it” (105), creates more difficulty for finding a home rather than a place that he is living. Their distinct ideals and approaches to their journey makes a reader wonder what it takes to make a home a home. Nadia was very open to the idea of leaving her home in hopes of going to a better place. While Saeed was reluctant to leave his father, and to continue going to other doors once they found a livable place. Once moving Saeed often found connections and joy in the people that reminded him of the home that he left behind.

When Saeed and Nadia are in London Saeed prayed with a group of people who instantly brought him comfort, he wished to move there even if it mean losing the home that they currently had.

“‘Why would we want to move?’ she said. ‘To be among our own kind,” Saeed answered. ‘What makes them our kind?’ ‘They’re from our country.’ ‘From the country we used to be from.’ ‘Yes.’ Saeed tried not to sound annoyed. ‘We’ve left that place.’ ‘That doesn’t mean we have no connection.'” (153)

This passage goes to show the difference of a home to Saeed and Nadia, and how a home could have endless definitions. Nadia exemplifies the idea that once you go through a door you “murder” those from your past life. While Saeed often mentions his old home and past life. To Nadia, it seems that a home is a place to live, she does not get emotionally attached to her residences making it easier for her to pick up and leave. For Saeed a home is a place where he finds comfort. Is it possible for Saeed and Nadia to find a place that both can call a home?

The Relationship

In the novel, Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid focuses on the development and change of a relationship between Nadia and Saeed. In the beginning, when they first meet, Nadia and Saeed experience the typical honeymoon phase of their romantic relationship and one expects them to have a great long lasting relationship. But, their relationship is put to the test once they step through a black door.

Right after they completed their first big move and migrated to Mykonos, they experienced their first hiccup. Nadia attempted to kiss Saeed and he “turned his face away angrily” (107). This is just one of many incidents that start to tear Saeed and Nadia farther apart.

They again traveled through a door and found themselves in London. This move increased the tension between them:

… they slept on the slender single bed together without speaking, without touching, or without touching more than the cramped space demanded, for this one night not unlike a couple that was long and unhappily married, a couple that made out of opportunities for joy, misery.


Yet again, the hardships of migrating can bee seen as it affects Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. They slowly grow apart in this unfamiliar country as Nadia spent time with the Nigerians and Saeed spent time in another house with others from his country (151). Moving to a new area and being surrounded by different people brought out their differences. It showcased Saeed’s desire to reconnect with his culture and find others like him while Nadia’s desire is to leave behind their past and start anew.

However, there is hope in the salvation of their relationship as Mohsin Hamid ends chapter 9 with, yet, another migration, “… both of them were filled with hope, hope that they would be able to rekindle their relationship …” (189). Will Nadia and Saeed be able to salvage their relationship or will they grow apart?

Migration in Exit West

In the novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, migration is a bittersweet experience for Nadia and Saeed. They have to leave their homes, jobs, and entire lives behind. It is especially heartbreaking because Saeed’s father refuses to come with them through the door. “And so neither expected, when a handwritten note from the agent arrived, pushed under their apartment door one morning and telling them precisely where to be at precisely what time the following afternoon, that Saeed’s father would say, ‘You two must go, but I will not come'” (95). No matter what Saeed or Nadia say, Saeed’s father will not change his mind. And before their journey, Saeed’s father talked to Nadia. “Saeed’s father summoned Nadia into his room. . . and all he asked was that she remain by Saeed’s side until Saeed was out of danger. . .” (97).

He wants to ensure Saeed’s safety because throughout the novel, Nadia proves to be an independent, strong, and responsible woman. If they stick together they will have a better chance of surviving. When the two are traveling through the door, “It was said in those days that the passage was both like dying and being born, and indeed Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the blackness. . .” (104). The experience of their migration to Mykonos is short, but almost surreal. When Saeed and Nadia get to Mykonos, “The beach was fronted by a beach club, with bars and tables and large outdoor loudspeakers and loungers stacked for winter” (105). The description of their new home seems positive. Nadia and Saeed’s journey from their home to Mykonos is sad in some respects, but hopefully it will be better in the long run if they are safe from the violence that they had to endure. My question is will this new environment strengthen their relationship or tear them apart?

A Captain Must Always Go Down with his Ship

When reading the section of the novel when Nadia and Saeed decide to leave Saeed’s house (pages 95-98), and end up leaving Saeed’s father behind, the first thing that popped into my head was the scene in Titanic when the captain was standing in the flooding room just waiting to die.

Watching the movie on repeat growing up, I was always confused on why the captain never tried to escape the sinking ship and was displaying nothing but external relaxation as his life is slowly taken away from him but as my dad used to say,

“A captain must always go down with his ship” .

Whether he feels it is his duty to accompany the ship as it perishes because it is his job or because he feels some sort of unexplainable connection to it in that he does not want to let go, a captain must always go down with his ship.

I feel this same vibe when reading this section of chapter 5. There are violent outbreaks occurring and intrusive militia ivading the houses in Saeed and Nadia’s city and because of this, there is no question in why people would do everything in their power to get out as soon and as safe as possible. However, Saeed’s father refuses to leave. When questioned by Saeed, he justifies his decision with his feeling that his wife’s presence remains in the city.

‘”Your mother is here.’

Saeed said, ‘Mother is gone.’

His father said, ‘Not for me’ (95)”.

These few lines on their own demonstrates Saeed’s fathers exceptional connection to the city in which he raised Saeed, solely because of the memories made and time spent there with his recently deceased wife, who was his best friend.

When Rose approaches the captain in the Titanic scene, the captain expresses his connection to the ship and although it may seem hard for Rose to comprehend, similar to how Saeed’s father’s desire to stay in the crumbling city would appall Saeed and Nadia, when one feels such a strong bond to a person/place/or thing, nothing has the potential to break that bond, unless it physically is destroyed (i.e. the ship sinking with the captain inside or Saeed’s house being demolished with his father inside). However, these connections and associations that we form are what allows a place that may be just a plot of land for someone to mean the world to someone else. Relationships to places that make us happy, content, and comfortable are all part of human nature. And in some cases, maintaining that relationship with the risk of death transcends the guarantee of a life ahead without being able to foster that relationship.

Parallels Between Sherlock Holmes, High Functioning Sociopath, and Mersault, Potential Psychopath?

In Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger, the main character Meursault appears to be very nonchalant and detached. He shows little emotion even at very major events. When his mother dies, he doesn’t cry, he doesn’t wish to see the body; the only thing occupying his mind is how he has a headache and wishes to take a nap, have a smoke, and drink some coffee. When he gets offered a job in Paris, he doesn’t show any emotion, only stating that he already has a job, why should he need a promotion?

In the TV show Sherlock, based on the famous novel series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock describes himself as a high-functioning sociopath. A sociopath is defined by Oxford as “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience”. Sherlock is capable of communicating and making connections with people just as John Watson, hence the high functioning, however, he is nonempathetic towards societal norms.

Meursault is similar to Sherlock in the sense that he acts on his own accord, societal norms not influencing his behavior or decisions in the slightest. However, I believe Meursault exhibits behaviors more synonymous with a psychopath. Sociopaths are seen more as “hot-headed” and have a “rules be damned” mentality, while psychopaths are cold and calculating, and have violent tendencies. Meursault killing a man certainly falls under violent social behavior. Psychopaths are also more personally driven to act the way they do, while sociopaths are still impacted by society and are compelled to act not according to the unwritten rules. Meursault is detached from society in the sense he doesn’t even care about its existence. He simply exists.

Losing Hope

In The Stranger by Albert Camus, the reader follows Meursault on his journey through a multitude of different situations and relationships. But, what I find the most interesting about this story is how Meursault responds to these situations. He is very analytical in nature, and seems almost emotionless. This ultimately results in Meursault getting himself into a lot of trouble and even leads to him being sentenced to execution. Throughout the story he tries to make some sense out of his odd behavioral habits and by the end, is able to connect his own personality to the meaning of life.

For me, the most striking line that embodies this realization is on page 122 when Meursualt is waiting to be executed. Meursault states, “As if a blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself–so like a brother, really–I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again”(122,123). I believe that this is one of the most important quotations in The Stranger and that it provides a realization that does a very good job of bringing the story to a close. Prior to this, but after his sentence, Meursault was contemplating ways to evade his execution. He quickly became consumed and very stressed. But, he eventually loses all hope and it is only then that he is able to be happy and at peace. He realizes that the indifference he shows to the world is mutual and reflects right back at him. With this, he no longer felt “alone” and no longer feared his certain death. Death comes eventually anyway, why stress about when it will come.