You Can’t Run From Change

In Mohsin Hamid’s novel, Exit West, Hamid gives the reader perspective on the life of migrants and their assimilation to the places that they migrate to. By focusing on the actual assimilation into their new homes, rather than the journey, Hamid humanizes the migrants and helps the audience understand that they desire normal lives and to fit into society as much as any other citizen.

Throughout the novel, Hamid shows through many of the different character perspectives that change is inevitable. For the migrants, the change that they endure is very drastic. Moving to a new a country, learning a new language, working new jobs, and learning to socialize with new people are just a few examples of the changes that migrants go through. While migrants endure the changes of moving to a new place, the natives have to accept the change and fact that new people (migrants) are moving in. Some natives are heavily against migration. This is demonstrated in the novel when Nadia and Saeed face a mob of natives in London: “The mob looked to Nadia like a strange and violent tribe, intent on their destruction, some armed with iron bars or knives, and she and Saeed turned and ran” (134). In this situation, the anti-migrant natives physically attacked migrants, which emphasizes how much they were against embracing and changing how things were. While this is the case, even more migrants continued to move to London and workplaces for migrants were soon established, which demonstrates that even while a person or group of people may be against change, it will still occur.

8 thoughts on “You Can’t Run From Change

  1. cassie m

    Love this!! I thought the different perspectives of the book were really interesting too! The way Hamid shows so many different people, both natives and migrants, reacting to the opening doors and going through the doors really showed just how broad the change was. Like you said with the mob, even though they oppose change, it’s going to happen anyway. I feel like this is also really relevant both historically and politically.

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  2. JAMES T.

    I think it’s really sad that people make the effort to get to the “land of the free” and then when they get here people harass and assault them. America is a country that should welcome people with open arms no matter who they are.

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  3. SOFIA BRAVO

    I agree that no matter how much people will try to fight change, it is always inevitable. It is still very sad though how much pain and hardship that occurs just to achieve change that is typically positive for most people.

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  4. Alex P

    I like how you described the different perspective that Hamid brings to this novel. I also thought it was interesting the way he descriptively portrayed the conflict between migrants and natives in the book.

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  5. ALEXANDRA NICHOLSON

    Hamid makes it clear through his short stories scattered throughout his novel that change in all situations is for the better (ex. the maid who refused to move). I love that you expanded on this part of the book because it is very important in this story.

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  6. TALIB B

    I like how you recognized that Hamid humanizes the immigrants. This writing makes you realize how biased and demonized immigrants are in the national media and by reading this you get to understand the feelings and life of an immigrant. I also like the idea that change is guaranteed. Change is one of the very few things in life that affect everyone. No matter who you are, how powerful you are, or who you know, change will apply to you.

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  7. Jasmine W

    I agree with you that Hamid humanizes the immigrants in the novel. However, I also think this creates a sort of paradoxical situation because recognizing that immigrants need to be ‘humanized’ in the eyes of the rest of the world simultaneously creates further separation. In response to this, I would actually argue that we are all migrants in some form because there is always going to be some place or situation in which we are the odd one out. This is not to equate the experiences of a refugee fleeing from civil war and everything they know with an excited college freshman exploring their dorm for the first time. Instead, I am merely trying to point out that we can all relate to immigrants on some minute level, and that it should not feel necessary for them to be ‘humanized.’

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  8. ryan c

    I like your idea of change a lot. Some people want it or need it, while some can’t fathom the though of it. But that does not matter. Change will come whether it is for the best or the worst. It’s what people make of the change that changes them though.

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