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.

The Journey is what Matters

I disagree with Camus’ argument about the constant pain in the human condition, mostly because of the extreme view he takes. To a certain extent, I do believe that life is full of suffering and the facade of hope and love is what keeps people going. However, Camus takes the stance that life is somewhat worthless, and when you die doesn’t matter.

This is seen in Camus’ novel, The Stranger, as he opens with the infamous line “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday”(1). One interpretation of the quote is that it doesn’t matter what day Maman died, but on a more personal level it could mean it doesn’t matter that Maman died at all. This meaning would show that Camus doesn’t value life much, if at all, and he doesn’t value the experience of living simply because all life ends with death.

Not only is his point of view downright depressing, it also makes many aspects of life meaningless if it doesn’t matter when you die. Camus was an absurdist, and he believed that love is just a facade of life that keeps people living, but is truly worthless. But without love, there is no emotion in life, and with no emotion life would be meaningless.

This I strongly disagree with, because I think what you do with your life is what matters, not the end result. The feelings in life and what you do with the short time you have is what is most important. Therefore when you die would matter because being blessed with a long happy life is quite the opposite of dying early without enjoying life itself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Overall, it doesn’t matter that life will end with the pain of death, it matters that you live your life with emotion and love.

A Dog is not a Man’s Best Friend

Throughout Part 1 of The Stranger, Meursault describes how his neighbor, Salamano, treats his dog. Salamano’s dog is old and mistreated, and we see this as he repeatedly curses at his dog, screaming “Flithy, stinking bastard!”(27). On top of that, Salamano also beats his dog for the same reasons, as Meursault notes he “beats the dog and swears at it”(27). It is apparent to the reader Salamano treats his dog inhumanely, simply because the dog is old, revealing Salamano’s unreasonable and controlling tendencies.

Similar behavior can be seen through Raymond, another one of Meursault’s neighbors. When talking with Meursault, Raymond says his girlfriend had an allowance of twenty Francs a day, which is not too much money in this time period. However, Raymond found a lottery ticket in her purse, which she apparently pawned bracelets for, and Raymond assumed she was cheating for having bracelets he didn’t give her. As a result of this, Raymond beat his girlfriend more than once, getting the police involved the second time, for no apparent reason. Raymond even says “I’d smack her around a little, but nice-like, you might say. … But this time it’s for real. And if you ask me, she still hasn’t got what she has coming”(31). The reason seems to be because she is a woman and he is exerting power over her, and Raymond’s sexist and controlling tendencies are revealed.

Both Raymond and Salamano are similar as they punish the people and animals closest to them, as Salamano punishes his dog and Raymond his girlfriend, for seemingly no reason. On top of that, they both lost these people and animals at the same time, as Salamano’s dog went missing and Raymond’s girlfriend ran away from him. This builds a connection between the two characters and their lives, as they both exert their physical dominance on those weaker than them. This foreshadows these characters will live similar lives in their respective situations.