Hamid uses language to portray his characters in a less biased way and allow readers to reflect on how words push power dynamics. From the beginning of the novel Saeed and Nadia’s home country and religion are unknown to the reader. Hamid will purposely avoid mentioning either of these facts and refer to them in general terms. Often people, especially in the middle east, become quickly defined by these things due to perception from the media and other sources. Rather than being quickly recognized as an “other” to readers, Saeed and Nadia’s characters are able to develop without being as burdened by these labels.
Hamid later flips the script on the west. After Saeed and Nadia take a door to England they arrive with other migrants in a house in London in an affluent neighborhood. As more refugees arrive the British people begin to want them out. Here, the author uses words once again to change how the reader views the stories characters. He chooses to call the British people natives, a term rarely used to describe people in western countries. The term native has a perception as being a term used for those oppressed by another group, such as the Native Americans. This calls out the reader’s own bias using this term and putting the British on the other side of the power dynamic.
In addition to words Hamid uses the emotions and actions of characters to try to level the playing field for the migrants and natives is showing that the countries they come from are not less than those they are going to. This is seen in the brief passage that cuts away from the story about an accountant on the brink of suicide. The man finds a door in his house and is able to be happy in Nambia. “Later his daughter and best friend would receive via their phones a photo of him… and a message that said he would not be returning, but not to worry, he felt something” (Hamid, 131). This example of a man happier on the side of the door most people are leaving shows that though people are leaving, these are not bad places. This all allows the reader to get a less biased view of the world and mutually recognize those not from the west as their equals.