What does it mean to be a nation?

In Exit West Mohsin Hamid explores what it means to be a nation. The traditional way of defining a nation is a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory. In Exit West, nations seemingly disappear as migration to other parts of the world becomes unstoppable. Landmasses that used to have national identity see that identity rapidly disappear. “Their grandparents had been born on the strip of land that stretched from the mid-northern-Pacific to the mid-northern-atlantic.” Instead of saying America, or the United States, people describe the region in terms of its general geographical location, implying that the United States no longer exists in the form the Nation used to have. Its history, ideas, and culture evaporated as people from the entire world came to occupy the area. Though the existence of personal national identity still exists, as evidenced by Saeed’s longing to join the community in London that comes from his home country, nations within land masses no longer exist.

The Faces of Migration in Exit West

At first glance the magical doors in Exit West that transport those who enter to a new location seem to represent hope, freedom, and the breaking of boundaries. However, these portals are meant to represent the constant grapple that migrants are faced with when leaving their homeland. The hope for new opportunities contrasts with the fear and nostalgia of leaving home. Shown by the camps in Mykonos and the houses in London, upon arrival migrants struggle with alienation and the longing for connections in a place filled with people who appear different from themselves.  

The contradicting feelings on migration between Nadia and Saeed are representative of the yearning for new opportunities contrasted with the pain of leaving what is familiar and comfortable. In Nadia’s case, she embraces migration as a pathway to a new life whereas Saeed is more fearful about leaving his father behind in a potentially dangerous situation. Through Nadia and Saeed, Hamid portrays how migrants are swept up by seemingly mandatory migration both willingly and unwillingly. Hamid presents migration as an inevitable occurrence that should be embraced or at least accepted since it cannot be denied. 

Embracing the Change

Humans, as a general whole, do not like change. Change scares us, it threatens our sense of normalcy, and worst of all, its impending and inescapable nature causes the consistency in our lives to be forever fleeting. As a result, as humans, we cherish the stable, unchanging moments when we can find them. We avoid the uncomfortable and the unknown so when they come to our doorstep we run, hide, or fight. An example, highlighted within the novel Exit West, is the constant migration of people to other countries. When we see other people coming into the place we call our home we, as a general whole, run, hide, or fight. Those who choose the option to run will move themselves in an attempt to avoid the new flow of people. Many white people used this tactic in the form of white flight when people of color, who they saw as different and therefor a threat, were moving into their neighborhoods. Those who choose to hide ignore the reality of the situation in an attempt to preserve their sense of normalcy. People often use this tactic when they encounter those without a home. They would rather ignore them and pretend that they weren’t there than acknowledge them as fellow human beings. Lastly, we are left with the third response. Fight. Those who choose to do so fight the influx of new people, ideas, or situations in a futile attempt to resist change. Life, however, is in a constant state of evolution. Nothing remains unchanged and, as seen in Exit West, that change can be, and often is, positive. As a result of the doors, people from all over the world blended together and moved to new places, bringing their culture with them. Marin became a hub of different and new things all coming together to create “a great creative flowering in the region” (217). When we come together as humans and embrace the change and our new circumstances, instead of being destructive towards ourselves and one another, we can create beautiful new things and share our unique experiences with each other, as they did in Marin, creating a better, more accepting and united society.

The Beauty of Friendship

In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Nadia and Saeed continue to drift apart as they begin to build their new lives after leaving their home country. Eventually, once in Marin County, CA, they make an official break from each other and go on to live their own separate lives. Although this initially seems like it is a sad ending because the main characters don’t end up together, I think it was the perfect way to end the book. Realistically, not all couples end up together. Usually in novels when this happens, either someone dies or the characters end up hating each other once the relationship has ended. However, I think that the beauty of Nadia and Saeed’s relationship is that they still cared for and supported each other after the split. Just because they had broken up didn’t mean that they had to disappear from each others lives. In fact, after they first split, Nadia and Saeed met to go on walks and would communicate through text and phone calls because they wanted to ensure the other was okay. After a little while they wouldn’t talk on the phone or meet up as much until all communication completely stopped, but it still took them time to fully break off. There was also no malice in this break because it happened naturally and they both had their new lives to live. They had both cared so much for the other while in their relationship, so even though it had changed from being romantic to more platonic, they were still friends that wanted the best for the other. When they meet up about half a century later in their birth country, Saeed and Nadia found easy conversation “…for they were former lovers, and they had not wounded each other so deeply as to have lost their ability to find a rhythm together…” (230). I think that their reunion shows that even though they didn’t end up together, they still appreciate each other and are friends above all else.

Everyone is a Migrant

Towards the end of Exit West, Hamid introduces a new character, an old woman from Palo Alto. The old woman has lived in the same house in Palo Alto her whole life and as she sees Palo Alto change over time, she starts to feel like an outsider. 

The community has changed so much that she doesn’t really leave her house. She feels like a migrant in the town she’s lived in her whole life. She’s seen new people move in and out of her neighborhood and doesn’t even bother trying to get to know them anymore. She loses her sense of belonging in the community. She compares this to the exclusion that comes with being a migrant. She has migrated through time.

I like how Hamid creates a connection between everyone. Migrants or not. It breaks down the traditional power dynamic that others migrants by pointing out something migrants and “natives” have in common.

We All Need Love Sometimes

In Mohsin Hamid’s novel Exit West, it follows the lives of Nadia and Saeed as they jump through magical doors in hopes to escape their homeland which has been overrun by a terrorist group. The author wrote both characters to defy the societal normals of their given gender. Nadia was written to be a strong, independent woman who sees no need for a man in her life despite her homeland crumbling to the ground. Saeed was written to be portrayed as a family-centered, religious, and traditional man. The relationship formed between these two characters was formed by, what it seemed like to the reader, love. The saying ‘opposites attract’ could be perfectly used to describe them because every reader wants there to be love. As the book continued it became more and more clear that the love between Nadia and Saeed was strictly platonic.

That’s not the say that there wasn’t a connection between Nadia and Saeed is easily found between others, but Nadia and Saeed realize they needed each other in order to escape their homeland, but they don’t satisfy each other’s needs as a romantic partner. Migrating, alone, male or female can be dangerous and extremely lonely. Nadia and Saeed met in a time of need of a companion, but not necessarily a spouse though. However, both knew if they followed what society wanted to see then they knew their chances of escaping into a safe country would be higher. When Nadia and Saeed come out of the first portal door “[Nadia] cradled him for he was still weak, and when they were strong enough they rose.” Both characters were weakened by the magical door and needed comfort in their lives. Comfort for not just the pain the portal caused, but the pain from leaving the world they knew, the guilt they felt for those left behind, and the fear of what lies ahead of them. Migration is unpredictable and most migrants prepare for the worst. Nadia and Saeed needed each other because they were each other’s one constant, which at the time for them may have seemed like romantic true love.

Once Nadia and Saeed realized they were both safe, the need to have a constant, reliable figure in their life began to lose its meaning. This realization made Nadia and Saeed explore what is best for them individually and as a couple. They began to live separate lives under the same roof, which is not what the readers classify as a “married” lifestyle. Their parting of ways was mutual and both even found love after. This is the love the readers want Nadia and Saeed to have, after all they went through mirgrating through countries that wanted to kill them. Both of them needed different types of love durning different times in their life even if it was not the type of love readers understand and know.

Those Who are Left Behind

As Nadia and Saeed embark on their next chapter of life together; leaving their home city it is not easy for them. In chapter 5 of the novel the finality of their decision is expressed, “when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.” Saeed has to leave his father alone shortly after the recent passing of his fathers wife/love of his life/Saeed mom. Still Saeed migrates, in hopes for a better life for him and Nadia. Saeed knows he will not see his father for a very long time or possibly ever again. While migration means new opportunities for Nadia and his relationship to grow, that does not come without the expense of those who are left behind.

This leaving of behind is expressed later on in the story. At times it is extremely hard for Saeed to be away from his father and religion. Hence him finding solace in the religious home in London he discovers and with whom he could pray with. He even asks Nadia if they would move into that home, but she says no. Similarly, Nadia finds a group of women within their migrant home in London who include and respect Nadia in their meetings.

You’re Authentic Identity

In the novel, Exit West, a dilemma is brought up between the two lovers and they question if they are really in love or if they’ve just gotten used to each other’s presence. The topics of falling out of love and romantic vs. platonic relationships come into play and bring up more for discussion.

Falling out of Love

The topic of falling out of love is such a sensitive yet scary topic. Usually, when people first realize they fall out of love, they don’t allow themselves to accept they are falling out of love and continue to stay in denial. This forces them to stay in a relationship or situation where they are not getting what they need nor can they be their true selves. The person may think they are also sparing the other person’s feelings by prolonging the inevitable but essentially, in the end, it ends up even worse for both parties.

Platonic vs. Romantic Relationships

Relationships lie on a spectrum that can be anywhere from platonic to romantic. The idea of relationships that aren’t romantic tends to fly over people’s heads and they can’t fathom the fact that these two people love each other but aren’t in love with each other. Saed and Nadia have a platonic relationship although they may have shared some sensual experiences at the beginning they quickly realized they don’t actually love each other in that way.

An Unhappy Ending, or Just a Realistic One?

Throughout the novel, Nadia and Saeed’s relationship becomes increasingly more strained and increasingly more platonic than romantic. Towards the end of the novel, there is a clear shift when Nadia moves into her own room, and she and Saeed start to miss their meetings, eventually forgetting to miss the meetings altogether. “While the first shared weekend walk that they skipped was noticed sharply by them both, the second was not so much and the third almost not at all, and soon they were meeting only once a month or so, and several days would pass in between a message or call”(222). As time begins to pass, they both shift away from their dependence on one another. They form separate relationships and allow themselves to have new beginnings. Their relationship had been significant, and made a big impact on them both in major ways, but had just stopped serving them. It was no longer beneficial, for them to remain together. I recall when I was reading that I hoped there would be a moment where their love was rekindled, and they lived happily ever after in the company of one another. However, I soon realized that this was in no way shape, or form realistic, nor would it be fair to Nadia or Saeed. They had changed one another so drastically, they were no longer a fit. I believe that the end of the story, while almost neutral, is fitting for the narrative. When Nadia and Saeed meet up after so many years away from one another, there is a comforting vibe to the novel, especially when it stated ” they rose and embraced and parted and did not know, then, if that evening would ever come”(231). They are reminiscing on past promises and connect physically one final time as if to finally close the book on their relationship, which I think is the most realistic, optimistic ending possible.

Migrant Vignettes: A Global Story in Local Vernacular

In the textbook The Modern Middle East, historian and author James Gelvin describes the history of the Middle East as a “global story told in local vernacular” — which is to say, the region’s history of modernization, colonization, development, and role on the world stage is reflected similarly in other regions across the world. In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid takes a similar approach in telling the global story of immigration with local vernacular, focusing on the single story of Saeed and Nadia and their experiences of emigration (coincidentally, from a country implied to be in or near the Middle East) and resettlement and adaptation while still holding on to their past.

Yet, Hamid also interjects the book with vignettes into different regions of the world, from Australia to Dubai to the Mexican-American border. Some find love, like the elderly man from Amsterdam and the wrinkled man from Rio de Janeiro (173-176), while others find new life, like the suicidal accountant from London (129-131). Some find a cause to fight for, like the young woman in Vienna (109-111), while others use it as a means to act for cause they are willing to die for, like the second man who is implied to be a terrorist from Saeed and Nadia’s home country traveling to Vienna (66-58). Even those who don’t immigrate are faced with immigration all around them, such that they end up in a place very different from the one in which they started, like the old woman in Palo Alto (207-209). The characters of these vignettes are all unnamed, with the implication being that their experiences are representative of the varied yet similar experiences of all humans.

Hamid tells of the global possibilities of the effects of immigration through individual, localized stories written from individual perspectives. It seems that Hamid intends to say: everyone is affected by migration, and though each individual’s experiences are unique, they are all comparable.

NOTE: I took the “global story in local vernacular” quote by James Gelvin from his textbook, which is used in Mr Wolman’s Modern Middle East History course.

Saeed’s Relationships in Exit West

Throughout the novel Exit West, Saeed is influenced by many different people, altering the decisions he makes and the way he acts. Most notably, his love for Nadia pushes him to protect her at all costs, ensuring their prosperity together. However, Saeed is also influenced by his family, and his connection and longing for his parents throughout the novel. Saeed is pulled apart by his two devotions, and must make compromises.

Saeed truly cares about Nadia, and it is evident in his actions. For example, Saeed decides to leave his hometown with Nadia, because he cares about her safety. By doing this he is valuing Nadia over his family, as he is leaving his family in his hometown that is ravaged with war and revolt. He also will be unable to see and connect with his parents after leaving with Nadia. Hamid writes, “‘You go first,’ but Saeed, who had until then thought he would go first, to make sure it was safe for Nadia to follow, now changed his mind, thinking it possibly more dangerous for her to remain behind while he went through, and said, ‘no, she will.” (103). Clearly, Saeed is always thinking about Nadia, and how his decisions will impact her.

In addition, Saeed is impacted by his family, even though he is not with them. This is clearly seen in his devotion to prayer and how he feels connected to his family through praying every day. Hamid writes, “When he prayed he touched his parents, who could not otherwise be touched, and he touched a feeling that we are all children who lose our parents, all of us” (202). Undoubtedly, Saeed’s connection to his family is very strong.

Often people are forced to choose between devotion to a significant other and family, and this is a choice that Saeed has to deal with throughout the novel.

“Put Your Records On”

Nadia, a main protagonist in Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, explored her own freedom through living by herself in her apartment and moving away from her family. Fulfilling some of her personality, Hamid writes in details and moments that portray her power and individualism. She rides a motorcycle, controls her own vision in front of males so they do not mess with her, and chooses the restaurant Saeed and her meet at (17-23). Specifically, I want to focus on the collection of records described that Nadia chose and filled part of her apartment with. One time when Saeed came into her apartment, Nadia picked one of her records of an old American woman soul singer and let it play (28). At first, I thought this was not that important but later on, when the records came up again I was curious. Now I realize that the records were part of the key in understanding how Nadia develops her own image and identity through her choices. 

Further, how the ability of Nadia’s record collection can serve to satisfy or offer to readers a glimpse into who she is and what she values. Later on in the book when Nadia is living with Saeed and his father she got the records and the player back from her apartment but kept the music hidden because it was forbidden by the militants who would search their homes (84). At first, an act of hiding can be seen as cowardness but upon a closer look, it is evident in this case that even taking the time and risk to retrieve the albums and the player and choosing to hold them in a place illustrates Nadia’s subtle strength. From the simple records, readers can see that Nadia individually still combats conformity by not following all the rules and supports her adventurous nature in exploring herself whether it be through records or a speedy motorcycle. Also, how even the selection of her records including an American singer conveys that Nadia is open to and appreciates global aspects of the world and wants to expose herself to them. Overall, I think the records are a little detail that makes all the difference in composing Nadia’s character throughout the book by giving her her own self-identity development and strength to hold onto aspects of that identity if she wants to.

A Yearning for the Familiar

While it is apparent that a central theme in this book is the importance of acceptance and accepting change, Hamid does a wonderful job of complicating this narrative that change is a one sided issue. What Hamid struck with this novel is the nuance that exists in every narrative, every story, and every situation. While Exit West argues that change is good, even necessary to a healthy world, and blind conservation of a status-quo is a fruitless ideology to adhere to, what spoke to me the most was Hamid’s more subtly worked in idea that humans, regardless of what power they hold in a system, are resistant to change.

Throughout the story this idea of resistance to the unfamiliar is presented as either violent opposition to change or exhibited as characters passively gravitate to the familiar. The most obvious example of this opposition to change is seen through the anti-migrant sentiment that is pervasive throughout many of the natives. The migrants are unfamiliar to natives, and the migrants supplanted natives in areas which the natives once called their own. I am fairly certain that even the most pro migrant individual would react with indignancy seeing what they had called theirs taken from them by something, someone, or a group of people who are unfamiliar. We see the often unfounded fear of “migrants taking away our [your answer here!]” in Exit West realized to an extent in which people are in fact having their property, livelihoods, and homes uprooted by a migrant crisis. What is a more rational fear than the fear of the unknown? And what is more rational than to adhere to that which you understand poses no threat? I believe that Hamid does an excellent job at not demonizing the anti-migrant nativists. They react how most all people would when faced with such a situation.

What is more is that this yearning for the familiarity is not limited to nativists, or those who hold power within the status quo. The maid who is mute is an example of this. Even promises of something better do not sway her from her mundane, but secure life. Similarly, Saeed seems to be the character with the most yearning for familiarity. He is always said to be thinking about his country, and gravitating towards that which he knows, his people. In London, Saeed, faced with the uncertainty of a hostile environment, finds comfort in his people. Similarly, Saeed’s father, despite most likely understanding he will die without contact with his son, stays in his home country despite knowing it will likely be his demise.

I find the culmination of this “yearning for familiarity” in the final times that we see Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. They both are reluctant to end it, rather have it wane and dissipate slowly. They both fear the implications of addressing anything that might hint at the end of the relationship, or a change, a departure from familiarity. Even Nadia, a bastion of unorthodoxy, progress, and desire for change, still needs time to let of go of a familiar but ultimately argumentative and pernicious love. I find this moment to be the most profound expression of Hamid’s view of change. We all experience change, we all must change, we all do change. Resistance to change only makes us unhappy. Unhappiness, often, if not always, is characterized by dwelling on that which we cannot change. And we cannot change our feelings, we cannot change our love, changing those are subject to the whims of chance. This book shows the malleability of love, something which we often believe can be ossified, something that can be relied on. The power of this book comes not from the eventual mutual acceptance that Saeed and Nadia share as they break off their love, but the difficulty that they both share in doing so and in how they are both able to live as more authentic versions of themselves, and are ultimately better off simply accepting the inevitability of their relationship’s end. They must accept the inevitability of change. Hamid perfectly embodies the eternal human struggle with change through the uniquely human and indecipherably complex phenomenon of love.

Migration Happiness

People travel all the time to try new things in their life and in this instance in the book “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid the reason the people were migrating was for love. People were migrating through the doors to find safety. But while Saeed and Nadia went through the door to find that safety, they also went through to find their new life of love. Like in chapter 9 the Brazilian man kept going back and forth between Brazil and Amsterdam till he found love with the Dutchman, he was travelling for love and found it just like Nadia and Saeed were searching for. While searching for that love and new life while migrating Nadia and Saeed break apart. The novel ends with Saeed and Nadia each happy in their new lives, which signals the peace that can be found in change and letting go of old places. Showing that the new migration life they were looking for didn’t maybe go as planned they still found the happiness in their new life even without falling in love with each other.

Migrants of Love

“We are all migrants through time” (209). This quote in Exit West can serve as an overall theme throughout the story. Whether it is through Saeed and Nadia’s relationship fading away with time or migrants having to accept change with time. There are many examples of this in the book. One example is Nadia, accepting the fact she loved Saeed in some ways, but not in a romantic way. She wasn’t comfortable with the responsibilities and family dynamics that came along with being faithful to Saeed. She was in her head too much and couldn’t accept the change. In the same way, migrants may or may not be able to accept the fact that they have to leave their hometown because it is not safe. In the book’s example of this being, although Saeed and Nadia eventually begin loving in their new relationships, the slow process that is required for them to pull apart from each other reflects how their breakup for a major life change, just as migration did. Coming from this is the fact that humans can never unlove. We can never unlove a human or a place. When a breakup is accepted that doesn’t mean someone is forgotten. That is why Saeed calls Nadia on the second night of their separation to make sure she’s safe. It is also the same reason fifty years later, Nadia returns to her native city to find it restored and renewed. A place or human you once loved will ever be forgotten just as a migrant never forgets their home.

The second example is the old lady from Palo Alto. “The world had moved, and she barely recognized the town that existed outside her property” (207). She loved her “old” home too much to accept the fact that her “old” home has changed. Just as migrants don’t want to accept their change in “homes”.

Breaking Stereotypes

In Exit West, it is pretty clear that Saeed, Nadia’s family, and most of the people from their hometown practice the religion, Islam. From a western perspective and through mainstream media, it seems that Islamic countries show a patriarchal society mostly because of tyrannical leaders who may interpret the religion in a biased way. Either way, ideas like Women shouldn’t make important decisions regarding their own lives, a male guardian should approve women’s marriage or divorce, and more are integrated into the society.

Exit West is very refreshing because it not only breaks common stereotypes of women in the whole world, it destroys stereotypes of women in the world of Islam. This is shown through the character Nadia. Right from the first time the reader meets her, they see that she is not like most women portrayed in literature and media as “she donned a black motorcycle helmet… straddled her ride, and rode off” (5). She wears a concealing black robe but her reason (“so men don’t fuck with me”(17)) sets her apart from most women. She moves away from her family to live independently and unlike Saeed doesn’t miss home when they leave.

I like that these types of books exist so that women can feel more empowered when they read about Nadia. Especially, a world that consistently tries to oppress them. After reading these types of books, it feels easier to live the life you want and fight back with the life that others want you to live.

The Girl From Mykonos

One story element of Exit West that I found interesting was Nadia’s encounter with the medical volunteer in Mykonos who treated her after she cut her arm while trying to escape a group of pursuers. Hamid briefly mentions this connection between the two, yet in his use of diction, the connection seems to be pretty strong. Hamid barely talks about their actual experience together. However at the end of the chapter, Hamid describes the farewell between the two, noting that ” Nadia hugged her too, and this hug lasted a long time, and the girl whispered something to her, whispered, and then she and Saeed turned and stepped through the door and left Mykonos behind,”(118). I love the mystery behind this goodbye, the reader never knowing what is whispered by the girl. There were definitely some attractive feelings split between the two and I always wondered what they really were thinking.

What is even more interesting is how Nadia mentions this girl from Mykonos at the end of the book, when contemplating the tension in her relationship with Saeed. Nadia argues that she has not lost her general sensuality, just lost only for Saeed, saying that when “she pleasured herself she thought increasingly of that girl, the girl from Mykonos, and the strength of her response no longer surprised her,” (200). This clearly supports Nadia’s fondness for this girl and how in this broken state between her and Saeed, she finds excitement in thinking her. Overall, I think it’s interesting how much a factor this girl might be in Nadia’s mind and the readers would never even know it. Since it is never explained what Nadia does in the half-century of time that transpires before she and Saeed meet up again, I think it could be possible that Nadia actually went back to Mynokos to rekindle this relationship.

The Importance of Platonic Love

In Exit West, we see the change in Nadia and Saeed’s relationship. It goes from friendship to romantic and back to friend ship towards the end of the book. No matter how their relationship was going they always stayed together and protected one another. Saeed and Nadia both thought that they were each other’s soulmates and that they were meant to be together, so much so that they thought they would get married. But as they started to grow as individuals they grew apart from each other, realizing that they were more different than they thought they were. Saeed desperately wanted a romantic relationship with Nadia, while she felt more or less neutral about. As their situation worsened and they traveled from place to place, they met new people as well as experienced lots of new things. This opened their eyes and hearts up to the idea that maybe they were not meant to be in a romantic way but in a different more platonic way. This wasn’t a good or bad thing but it was hard to deal with. They felt like they had promised each other that they would stay together no matter what, but when they started to feel safe and grow it became too much work to uphold. They reminded each other of their places of birth, the things they had lost, and the things that they missed. In the end they were always with each other in spirit, which was strong enough to sustain them, and they were able to never leave off on bad terms because they mutually agreed on going their own ways.

The fear of Change

In the novel, “Exit West”, Saeed and Nadia started out as very much in love, but as time went on, and they spent more and more time together they slowly fell out of passion and love for one another and were “slipping away” from each other (213). Saeed even started to become interested in the preacher’s daughter but refrained from starting a relationship with her because he feared hurting Nadia. Nadia would similarly fantasize about different people and not Saeed. While most people would assume that this is an unhealthy relationship and the couple should split, this is easier said than done. 

Saeed and Nadia still cared about each other and were fearful to lose one another which is why they remained living together and pursuing their (unhappy) relationship. The two of them never discussed their feelings of “drifting apart” and “ending the world they had built together”. Because of the shared feelings of care towards each other, Saeed and Nadia remained good friends, and didn’t want to let their relationship end. So, fear of change and abandonmet is what ultimately led Saeed and Nadia to stay together for as long as they did.

Beauty and Brutality

In his novel, Exit West, Moshin Hamid employs the casual description of violence as well as it’s juxtaposition to love to convey the unconditional possibility of life’s inevitable and drastic changes. Specifically, Hamid accomplishes this theme through Saeed and Nadia’s relationship and the harsh and incessantly changing world that it forcibly exists in.

After Nadia gives Saeed a set of keys, a valuable step forward in their romantic relationship, both of them grin, “But when he was gone she heard the demolition blows of distant artillery, the unmaking of buildings, and large-scale fighting having resumed somewhere, and she was worried for him on his drive home…”(66). The quick shift from the love and happiness in their relationship to the violence surrounding them and the lack of security in his safety reveals the reality of how immediate life can change, especially when shifting from a personal bubble to the dangers of the real world.

Furthermore, when Nadia is considering the possibility of moving in with Saeed, Saeed’s mother’s death is abruptly mentioned in the middle of her sentence, Hamid mentions, “and she might have waited much longer had Saeed’s mother not been killed, a stray heavy-caliber round passing through the windshield of her family’s car and taking with it a quarter of Saeed’s mothers’ head”(74-75). Within the topic of taking another monumental milestone surrounding Saeed and Nadias love and relationship, the death of his mother is not only mentioned passively but brutally described. The unexpected cruelness exposes the abruptness of life events and their unpredictability, shown by the natural introduction of this violent death.