Indifference in The Stranger and Exit West

In The Stranger, the main character, Meursault, has a lack of care for relationships in his life which leads him to unintentionally harming those around him. Meursault’s indifference towards life is similar to the way the main character in Exit West, Saeed, views life.

Although Saeed does care for his partner, Nadia, and his parents, he has little care for life itself. Saeed’s city is in the middle of a war and destruction is all around him, touching almost every area of his life. However, he has yet to realize the true horror of war until his mother passes away due to the fighting.

“In times of violence, there is always that first acquaintance or intimate of ours, who, when they are touched, makes what had seemed like a bad dream suddenly, evisceratingly real”(31).

The war in Saeed’s city became even more real after the death of his mother. However, his reaction to his mother’s death was shockingly small. Readers are left wondering what happened, wondering what Saeed’s reaction was and what his father’s reaction was. However, the author, Mohsin Hamid, did not give readers what they desired. Hamid strategically leaves the readers desiring a sense of closure to show what the war had done to Saeed and his emotions, or lack thereof.

This is similar to the way The Stranger portrays Meursault. From the beginning of the book, Meursault isn’t emotionally attached to anything or anyone. He, similarly, has little to no reaction when his mother dies.

4 thoughts on “Indifference in The Stranger and Exit West

  1. Sadie F.

    I agree that there are similarities between Saaed and Meursault and how they view life. This was an interesting comparison and one I had not thought of.


  2. Caroline R.

    I totally agree with this. As readers in both stories you find yourself frustrated that you are not getting what you want from either the characters or the author. Reading about Meursault’s actions are incredibly aggravating because he’s not doing what we feel like he “should” be and when we don’t get the reaction from Saeed that we expect we feel the same way.


  3. Isaac K.

    I also noticed these similarities between the main characters of the novel. I noticed this as I got into the middle chapters of “Exit West” when Saeed becomes much more indifferent to the world.


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