In Exit West, Nadia and Saeed must make a tough decision regarding the question of safety and opportunity or comfort and danger. This being whether they should travel through magical doors that transport people to another part of the world, while they don’t know if the rumors are true, leaving their war-stricken country is the best option. Except Saeed’s father refuses to go with them, this causes regret and internal conflict in Saeed and tension in the relationship between him and Nadia.
After Saeed and Nadia make it through the doors successfully, without Saeed’s father, and end up in Mykonos something is off between them. Saeed is acting much different and while they don’t address it, it is tugging at their relationship. Nadia explains that she, “had glimpsed in him a moment of bitterness” (108), something she had never seen in him before.
It can be inferred that Saeed’s feelings of bitterness toward Nadia are due to his father being left behind. He is having trouble coming to terms with his father’s distance and possible circumstances. So he is blaming Nadia. I believe that he’s formed an idea that if not for Nadia his father would be safe, if not for Nadia he could protect his father, if not for Nadia he could still be with him.
As Saeed and Nadia’s time on Mykonos grows longer we see more of their rocky relationship and the awkwardness of it. One night they go look out on the sea from atop a hill but, “…they did not see each other, for she went up before him, and he went up after her (109). This tells us that they don’t feel comfort in each other as they had before their travels, heavily because Saeed has closed himself off and he was the one who directed the relationship and was more warm-hearted.
It will be interesting to see how or if this dynamic changes, if they will bounce back or continue drifting apart as they enter a new part of the world.