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.

Is Death the Happy Ending?

Albert Camus’s book The Stranger attempts to answer the question, what is the meaning of life? Camus doesn’t take the average approach claiming a cliche like love, family, or friendship is the meaning of life, in fact, he looks in the opposite direction. The main character Meursault is portrayed as a cold, emotionless, and remorseless man, who at the start confuses the readers. As the book continues, Camus shows us more of Meursault’s thoughts which lay parallel with the theme of “Myth of Sisyphus.” The theme in the “Myth of Sisyphus” is that you can only truly be happy when you do not shy away from the inevitable of life. In The Stranger Meursault says, while in prison, “I wasn’t too unhappy. Once again the main problem was killing time.” This quote could also be a metaphor for life, showing that all people do in their years on Earth is kill time until death comes. This means that love, friends, and family is all one big distraction for people so they don’t have to think about death. But, Meursault said he wasn’t too unhappy with a life in prison which shows the readers that he isn’t cold for no reason, he just sees no reason to be always friendly or get caught up in the distractions of life because he sees the end. In the “Myth of Sisyphus,” Sisyphus has to live the rest of his life pushing a boulder up a mountain only to watch is role down the mountain where he starts the process all over again and Camus interprets that as Sisyphus is the happiest man alive.

At a first read, that seems so wrong because for anyone pushing a boulder up a rock than watching it fall seems boring, pointless, and infuriating because they would never be successful. But, in life no one every truly is successful at life because no one lives forever. Camus, believes that humans can only truly be happy in life if they accept their fate as that is portrayed through the life of Meursault. This brings back the idea that, what we do in life can be described as pointless. Which than answers the question what is the true meaning of life, according to Camus Ever since a young age movies, TV shows, and books have taught us to always find the happy ending, and most times that consists of finding your prince charming, or receiving the gold medal, but both The Stranger and “Myth of Sisyphus” emphasize that happy or not happy about it the ending is death. Although, I believe that there is a way to be swept up in the distractions and recognize that life ends in death regardless of what you accomplish and still be truly happy in life.

No Tears?

The first line of The Stranger, written by Albert Camus is “Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. ” The initial reaction to this is to assume Meursault is a cold man, who had an estranged relationship with his mother. Which, is a bold assumption to make only two sentences into the book, however as the book narrates through the events leading up to the funeral and after the author makes it clear that Meursault isn’t as cold as he appears.

Meursault lost his mother but on the day of her funeral all he could think about was the sun. He thought about the location of the sun and the heat beating down on the funeral party. Meursault didn’t cry or shed a tear on the days leading up to and after the funeral which some people find strange but I don’t think you have to cry if something is sad. It is clear that he is not the traditional man as the book continues, but I think him not crying isn’t something that makes him cold. There are many different ways people grieve lost ones and there is not right or wrong way to do so. When Meursault arrives home he says “I wander around the apartment. It was just the right size when Maman was here. Now its too big for me,” this thought shows us that he did enjoy life with his mom and feels that there is a sort of emptiness in his life with her absent. Despite all of his coldness and little knowledge of his mothers life in the home he stilled loved her and was divested when she died, which shows the reader a soft side to him.