Windows and Doors in Exit West

In Mohsin Hamid’s novel, Exit West, two different types of openings in buildings become meaningful symbols in Saeed and Nadia’s home. Doors are symbols of hope and prosperity, while windows are symbols of panic and death.

Windows reminded civilians of the inevitable destruction of their city. Since windows are translucent, they exposed the violence in the streets. As the fighting became worse, stray bullets commonly entered homes through windows. Or, bullets could break windows, and glass shrapnels can be deadly. As a result, residents begin placing household items, such as bookshelves, in front of windows. Nadia claims that her own windows looked like “amorphous black works of contemporary art” (72). She sees them as shapeless black modern symbols of destruction. Although they have many negative aspects, the people of the city depend on windows. They need them for light and for warmth.

Doors became an escape route for the citizens of the falling city. Since they shielded residents from the outside world, doors created the illusion of stability. Magical doors that transported a person to another part of the world existed in rumours. Most people thought that the rumours were nonsense, but “began to gaze at their own doors a little differently” (72). Unlike windows, people did not depend on doors. They were a privilege.

The Effects of “Weather” on Monsieur Meursault

In Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, Monsieur Meursault either describes or complains about the heat multiple times. What effect does the heat have on Meursault?

The first instance in Chapter 1 is the most detailed description of the weather in the novel. When Meursault was pondering the weather at the location of his mother’s funeral, he noticed that “with the sun bearing down, making the whole landscape shimmer with heat, [the evening] was inhuman and oppressive” (15). It is clear that Meursault is bothered by the heat. Later, an old man begins a conversation with Meursault and they talk about the extreme heat during the funeral. The man asks Meursault if his mother was old, and he ambiguously responds “Fairly” (16). He then ponders “The glare from the sky was unbearable” (16). The heat brought confusion upon Meursault, causing him to forget key details about his mother.

At the end of part 1, Meursault makes comments about the heat a second time before he shoots a man. As Meursault approached the Arab, “the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on [his] back” and “the sun was starting to burn [his] cheeks” (58). Again, the heat was the final topic on Meursault’s mind before he acted illogically.

There are many more cases where Meursault cannot help thinking about the heat. At the beginning of part 2, he can barely focus on his lawyer’s argument because “it was hot” (68). While he is in the courtroom, Meursault begins “feeling dizzy, with all [the] people in [the] stuffy room” and comments on the temperature becoming hotter twice (83, 86, 87, 101).

I would argue that Meursault was negatively affected by the heat, and made many mistakes because he hated hot temperatures.

Monsieur Meursault: Basic Nihilist or Trapped Sentimentalist?

Throughout Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, it is clear that Meursault lives a painfully neutral life and is emotionally detached from others. Is he truly this basic and plain, or is there some emotion inside of him?

First, it is important to ask if Meursault has always been the way he is now. When Meursault is offered an opportunity to work in Paris from his boss, he is unsurprisingly unenthusiastic. However, we receive some of his own personal insight when he debates changing his life. He recalls that when he was a student, “[he] had lots of ambitions….” (41). Holding any type of ambition contradicts Meursault’s current personality. He most likely was not so emotionless when he was younger….

Occasionally, Meursault will subtly reveal that he cares about what others think. When Meursault and his girlfriend are hanging out with some friends, a character called Masson makes Meursault’s girlfriend laugh “for some reason” in Meursault’s perspective. It seems that Meursault doesn’t know why. Meursault proceeds to believe that “she’d had a little too much to drink” (52). Meursault feels a little bit jealous, and cares that he is not the one making his girlfriend laugh.

Glimmers of Meursault’s emotional connections to others appear throughout The Stranger. When Meursault heard his neighbor crying about his lost dog, he “for some reason [he] thought of his mom” (39). It seems like Meursault feels a bit of remorse for his deceased mother, but something is preventing him from understanding why.

I would argue that Meursault used to be much more emotional, but something caused him to become disconnected from others.