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?

5 thoughts on “What makes a home a home?

  1. Molly H

    I like your post, and I definitely agree that Nadia and Saeed took their journey differently. For Nadia, it could have been easier for her to move because she was already living on her own. Also, she wasn’t very close with her family. I think that Saeed struggled a lot more to leave his home because he would be leaving his father behind, and they had a good relationship. Saeed is tethered to his old life, while Nadia is able to move from place to place easily.

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  2. Kianna G.

    I also agree, Saeed and Nadia both have different personalities and react to their migration differently. People can do the same actions but they all will have different reactions to it. I think that their past is a determining factor in how they both respond to their move. Nadia did leave her family willingly and was living on her own, so she had become more open or accustom to the idea of moving and living somewhere new. Saeed, however, never moved out and lived with his parents until their step through the door. Later, in London, their different ideas of home are seen. Nadia finds herself among the Nigerians and Saeed finds comfort with people who are from his country. Nadia is more open to change and new experiences while Saeed tends to be more traditional.

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  3. Audrey S

    I never really thought about their differing pasts and how it influences their new life away from home. I thought your take was very interesting. I agree with the fact that Nadia views home as solely a place to live and Saeed, coming from a home with both his parents, view it as a very important place that provides him with bliss. I think they will struggle to find a place that they both call home but will realize that home is just where the other is.

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  4. HANNAH R

    I like how this post highlights how each migrant faces through their journey and how they cope with their loss. Nadia is more fearless and willing to move and forget about the past. Some migrants are similar to this and will do whatever it takes to find sanctuary in a new home. Then there is Saeed who will leave their home to find a brighter future, they still feel connected to their old life. Lots of migrants understand that their migration is for the better, but they still uphold their old life’s customs and traditions.

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  5. Isabel K

    I think one of the most interesting parts of Exit West is the difference in what “home” means to Saeed and Nadia. It is clear that Saeed feels much more tied to their country of origin than Nadia does, yet this does not mean his connection to that country is any stronger than Nadia’s is. It is clear from the beginning that Nadia is more open to new experiences than Saeed is – she is the one who lives on her own, the one who purchases shrooms, etc. Meanwhile, Saeed still lives in his family home. While there is nothing wrong with either lifestyle, I think that at the point in the novel that you referenced, it becomes clear that Saeed and Nadia are incompatible.

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