A Not-So-Complex Complex Novel

In the novel, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, after Nadia steps though the first door to get to the Greek Islands it is noted that,
“Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the backness and a grasping struggle as she fought to exit, and she felt cold and bruised and damp as she lay on the floor of the room at the other side, trembling and too spent at the first stand, and she thought, while she was strained to fill her lungs, that this dampness mist be her own sweat”(104). The explanation of Nadia’s experience while stepping though the door is very interesting, and seems almost intense and emotionally pact. The detail of filling her lungs and the cold/bruising feeling creates a sadness and rebirth feeling, like something was restricting her lungs fro getting any oxygen or she has just come from the depths of a dark ocean in a sea of unknown. This can also be inferred to be emotional and possibly physical characteristics and descriptions of what it’s like to migrate to a new country, being in a place you don’t understand or know, a possible feeling of helplessness and overwhelmingness. Also after Saeed comes though the door after Nadia it’s mentioned that, “she saw Saeed pivot back to the door, as though he wished maybe to reverse course and return through ut, and she stood beside him without speaking…”(105). This can also be inferred to be a representation of the fact that migrants sometimes don’t want to leave their home but have to, and when they do they may regret it.

Also in the novel, there is a short description of a man who is planning on killing himself, but before he does so he notices that his door has become an opening to another place in the world, but ignores it. However, right before he is about to do anything he wants to see what could possibly be on the other side of the door and, “Later his daughter and his best friend would receive via phones a photo of him, on a seaside… and a message that said he would not be returning…”(111). The explanation of this man using the door to escape a life that only brought him disappointment and bring happiness into his life shows the contrasts between the primary story, using these doors to escape war and seek refuge, and this man’s story, using the door to go somewhere on vacation or somewhere tropical. This contrast illustrates the privilege that people have in this story and how it is utilized for themselves and their well-being. Finally, when a very pale woman from Australia is explained to be living in a home in a wealthy neighborhood that has been gentrified, it’s explained that in her side table she has “passports, checkbooks, receipts, coins, keys, a pair of handcuffs, and a few paper-wrapped sticks of unchewed chewing gum” (8). Specifically the mention of the handcuffs in this woman’s side table illustrates the power she has to be able to control when she or someone is constrained shows and contrasts later when the man coming out of the closet when he has little control of where he is.

One thought on “A Not-So-Complex Complex Novel

  1. Cory Y

    The novel definitely seems to focus on the contrast between the privileged and the disadvantaged, especially when dealing with the doors. By traveling through the doors, those who were underprivileged due to the circumstances of their birth or life can escape those circumstances, but then face a roadblock in the form of nativist or nationalist sentiment. Those who are privileged fear the loss of their “way of life”, but for those who feel they have nothing to live for (such as the man you mentioned in your post), there is not necessarily a “way of life” to lose. The doors always offer an opportunity to those who can access it, but what that opportunity actually is depends on who is traveling through them.

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