Time can’t Heal Love

In his novel, Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid asserts love cannot be fixed by time or excitement. This is seen through Saeed and Nadia’s relationship throughout the story, and is emphasized as their relationship struggles in London and falls apart in Marin.

When Nadia and Saeed are in the early stages of their relationship, they are extremely emotional with each other, and after Saeed asked Nadia to marry him very early in the relationship, Nadia “felt great tenderness well up in her for him at that moment”(65). However, Nadia and Saeed’s relationship soon starts to deteriorate after their migration to London, and soon after they disagreed where to stay, Nadia “brought her face close to his that night, close enough to tickle his lips with her breathing, [but] he was unable to muster the enthusiasm to bridge the tiny distance it would have taken to kiss”(153). Saeed and Nadia’s relationship has fallen to the point where when they once would have felt intimate, they no longer have those feelings, and Saeed chooses to not kiss Nadia even though he easily could. This is the first sign of the deterioration of their relationship.

It becomes clear Saeed and Nadia start to completely lose these feelings after they move to Marin in an attempt to rekindle their old love, but fail miserably. Soon after moving, Nadia stands at the door with her bags packed, and Saeed and Nadia “did not embrace or kiss then, they stood facing each other at the threshold of the shanty that had been theirs, and they did not shake hands either, they looked each at the other, for a long, long time, any gesture seeming inadequate”(215). All feelings of love and intimacy between them had dissipated, and now they seem like strangers to one another.

Through Saeed and Nadia’s relationship, Hamid is asserting that love cannot be healed solely by time or change, and this is seen as their love continues to fail despite their effort and patience with it, moving from city to city and giving it over a year in an attempt to find feelings again. Hamid does this through his long sentence structure when describing their feelings, and through his use of asyndeton, using almost 20 commas in the sentence on page 215 where Saeed and Nadia finally leave each other. These literary devices strengthen the effect of his writing, dramatizing and emphasizing the harsh words between Saeed and Nadia, and leave the reader with a feeling of despair as their love depressingly fails.

3 thoughts on “Time can’t Heal Love

  1. Sofia W

    I agree that Hamid makes an important point about the character’s lack of love for each other not being able to be mended with time. I think that that is another dominant narrative that Exit West strives to question and that the long sentences definitely help create emotion for the reader as their relationship ends.

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  2. Brendy F.

    I would disagree with your assertion that this leaves the reader with a depressing feeling of despair. I think that the way Nadia and Saeed drift apart is perfectly natural and results in them having nothing but positive feelings for each other. Rather than an argument where one storms off, such in the case of Nadia and her family, or in an unfortunate separation, such as Saeed and his parents, Nadia and Saeed both agree that they want a different relationship and leave each other without feelings of resentment/regret or loss.

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  3. LEO G

    I like your point about how the overuse of commas in their last parting moments dramatizes the situation and improves the writing. After reading the novel, I did indeed feel sad about the falling out of Saeed and Nadia, yet, it seemed like it was the best possible outcome. They would have been discontent with their lives if they kept on living like they had to take care of each other, without the emotional connection they used to have. So I feel like it was better that they were able to leave each other without hard feelings and split into their own paths.

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