Exit West and Focusing on the Why of Immigration

The story Exit West by Mohsin Hamid helps imagine a reality where the how of migration is not the focal point of immigration but instead something that just happens, something where anyone could walk through a door and instantly be in a new country. This idea Hamid constructs his book around, these passages being reduced to walking through a door, helps to focus on what was happening that made it necessary for someone to leave their homes in the first place. That idea he invokes helps to restore humanity into these characters while reading, in contrast of the real world where stories of immigration focus on the how instead of the why, stripping humanity away from the people who partake in this journey. Often, this dehumanizing makes it easy to alienate but Hamid challenges that idea throughout the whole book and through his characters of Saeed and Nadia. As Saeed and Nadia go through change with each journey they take through the doorways, we see that migration is normal and identities can alter as a result. Though it is easy to other when looking at the journey of someone else, one you may not be able to relate to, we are all migrators as the world and people around us shift and change as well.

2 thoughts on “Exit West and Focusing on the Why of Immigration

  1. Maya S

    I really like this interpretation. You make a good point about how taking the “why” away forces us to focus on the person and their experience and not the method of migration (e.i. whether they immigrated legally/illegally).


  2. Nate H

    I like that you’re focusing on this point of the story, I feel Mohsin Hamid deserves a lot of respect for this. The invention of doors that will take you to someplace else instantaneously was a very intelligent way to draw attention from the distraction of the “how” of immigration and toward the more meaningful aspects of the move.


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