Disconnect between Nadia and Saeed

In Exit West, Nadia and Saeed must make a tough decision regarding the question of safety and opportunity or comfort and danger. This being whether they should travel through magical doors that transport people to another part of the world, while they don’t know if the rumors are true, leaving their war-stricken country is the best option. Except Saeed’s father refuses to go with them, this causes regret and internal conflict in Saeed and tension in the relationship between him and Nadia. 

After Saeed and Nadia make it through the doors successfully, without Saeed’s father, and end up in Mykonos something is off between them. Saeed is acting much different and while they don’t address it, it is tugging at their relationship. Nadia explains that she, “had glimpsed in him a moment of bitterness” (108), something she had never seen in him before. 

It can be inferred that Saeed’s feelings of bitterness toward Nadia are due to his father being left behind. He is having trouble coming to terms with his father’s distance and possible circumstances. So he is blaming Nadia. I believe that he’s formed an idea that if not for Nadia his father would be safe, if not for Nadia he could protect his father, if not for Nadia he could still be with him. 

As Saeed and Nadia’s time on Mykonos grows longer we see more of their rocky relationship and the awkwardness of it. One night they go look out on the sea from atop a hill but, “…they did not see each other, for she went up before him, and he went up after her (109). This tells us that they don’t feel comfort in each other as they had before their travels, heavily because Saeed has closed himself off and he was the one who directed the relationship and was more warm-hearted. 

It will be interesting to see how or if this dynamic changes, if they will bounce back or continue drifting apart as they enter a new part of the world.

The Stranger and No Longer Human

As I’ve been reading The Stranger by Albert Camus this last week or so, I have constantly been reflecting and comparing it to a previous book I´d read this summer, No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai.

Through further inspectional and revisiting of No Longer Human, I’ve found that the two books, especially the characters, are both opposites and somewhat parallel. 

The main character in No Longer Human, Oba Yozo, is a more sensitive and emotional person but feels no joy, only an overwhelming feeling of estrangement. While Meursault the narrator of The Stranger is very nonchalant and emotionally dull. However, both of these characters bring about a feeling of unease and emptiness to the reader. An aspect of these two characters that binds them together is their indifference to other people and life itself.

To grasp this better, the following are both books opening lines:

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.”

The Stranger

¨Mine has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being. ¨

No Longer Human

Both these lines pull the reader in through uncomfortability, from the get-go they leave the impression of being an outsider and mentally peculiar, not being normal. 

The two books have the same destination, or rather these two characters have the same outlook on life but have different ways of getting there. I think this line from No Longer Human Shows their similar mental state well, “Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness. Everything passes. That is the one and only thing that I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell. Everything passes.”(169) Oba is a reflective person, Meursault just accepts his belief, “I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.”(122) Meursault feels too little and finds life meaningless and on the flip side, Oba Yozo feels too much, too inferior, that he finds life meaningless.  

 The approach to this mindset though is a stark difference, Meursault does not show or feel emotions. Oba cannot feel happiness, he is stuck in a deep depression to the point that nothing matters. By this same principle, Meursault sees nothing wrong with his nature, Oba understands that he is not normal, thinking of himself as other or not human, he’s a “clown”, acting in a way acceptable by society (laughing and joking around).

Both the Stranger and No Longer Human illustrate that life isn’t full but futile, by following abnormal figures through a span of time and observing the experience and insight they gain as rejects from society.

Is Meursault Really All That Bad?

When I read the first few infamous lines of The Stranger by Albert Camus, I took Meursault for a boring character. I stated in my thesis, only based on the beginning four pages, “In Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, he depicts the narrator, Meursault, as lackluster and having a dull approach to society.¨ A Lot of my stance prevails, he’s not expressive or very interested in others, but today as my classmates argue his nature negatively and almost describes him sociopathically, I had trouble not intervening. 

My newest interpretation of the narrator is that he struggles to feel comfortable confronting his emotions and avoids the vulnerability it brings. He is not the cold man others see him for.

  His reaction to his mothers’ death is the basis for much of his negative connotation and the first impression the reader gets of him.  However, there is a hidden emotion in this relationship. His resistance to opening the casket is because he earlier states “For now, it’s almost like Maman weren’t dead. After the funeral, though, the case will be closed, and  everything will have an official feel to it,”(3) and so he didn’t want to see her, to dodge the weight of her death. He later demonstrates signs of missing her that were neglected in the discussion amongst my classmates, ¨It was just the right size when Maman was here. Now it’s too big for me…¨(21) and he  “ate standing up,” (24) which I interpreted a being uncomfortable without her presence. 

Additionally, the Sunday after he got back home he sits the entire day watching the passersby, he alludes to the fact that this is how his Sundays are but the next Sunday he is much more active. This can be interpreted as an indication of mourning.  

We see a more lively bit of Meursault’s nature, with Marie at the beach, it is the first time we see him initiate human interaction. As the novel progresses we watch him become more opinionated and care for others (or be less indifferent)  in the internal dialogue about Marie  Stating “Marie told me I hadn’t kissed her since this morning. It was true, and yet I wanted to” (51) and other statements along those lines. He also follows Raymond to the beach, exhibiting concern for his new friend. 

While he is not very opinionated, it is clear that he is not as odd as he is depicted. This is only my perspective now, considering the ending of part one of the novel, I am almost positive my views on Meursault as a character will change again as his character adapts to his new circumstances.