Love in Migration

By showcasing minor characters with the freedom to migrate instantaneously through doors, Exit West shows that people immigrate to other countries to find possibility, which often takes different forms. One is that is demonstrated is love.

Early in the novel, the people who go through the doors follow the classic narrative of the endangered refugee in search of safety. What we see with Saeed and Nadia, life in their own city became impossible, without freedom, privacy, or financial opportunities there was no opportunity to deeply love and thrive together. The two travel through a door to a new beginning in hopes of growing their love, but also in search of safety together.

Later, in Chapter 9, the wrinkled Brazilian man goes back and forth between Brazil and Amsterdam until his relationship with the Dutchman turns into a romance: “A week later a war photographer…[was] a witness to their first kiss, which she captured, without expecting to, through the lens of her camera, and then deleted, later that night, in a gesture of uncharacteristic sentimentality and respect” (176). He migrated to find love.

Or even the maid in Chapter 11 chooses not to migrate at all because she assumes nowhere else in the world can accept her and no possibilities exist outside her community. Even the love and support of her daughter can’t convince her to begin the journey to a new life. Whatever the initial motivation behind migration, the characters in the novel all search for new possibilities, which can mean safety, opportunity, or love.

Are You Happy?

Camus’ argument states that with the human condition, happiness is connected to the discovery that our world and our fate are our own, that there is no hope, and that our life is purely what we make of it. He states that people see life as a constant struggle, without hope. Any attempt to deny or avoid the struggle leads to unfulfillment. Camus’s single requirement for society is to live with full awareness of the absurdity of one’s position.

He applies this conclusion while transforming the reader’s thoughts of the myth. While Sisyphus is pushing his rock up the mountain, there is nothing for him but toil and struggle. But in those moments where Sisyphus descends the mountain free from his burden, he is aware. He knows that he will struggle forever and he knows that this struggle will get him nowhere. Happiness and the absurd are closely linked, suggests Camus. They are both connected to the discovery that our world and our fate are our own, that there is no hope, and that our life is purely what we make of it. During the time he walks down towards the rock, Sisyphus is totally aware of his fate. Camus concludes: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

I agree with some of his thoughts and ideas about the human condition. It reminds me of self-improvement. In order to actually improve one’s mindset and over well-being, they must recognize where they are in life and accept it. This will allow the said person to begin their journey of happiness because they are in control of their fate. However, the one part that I do not understand is what really is happiness. If it is just being aware of your fate, what comes next? From the perspective of Camus, is there more meaning to life than working to accept your fate and ultimately being happy?

The Weather Affect

Upon hearing news of his mother’s death, Meursault is dispassionate and nonchalant, as if he’s heard of a poor weather forecast for the upcoming weekend that may inconvenience his plans. “Maman died today” (3).

Throughout the first chapters of the novel, the sun is a symbol for the feelings and emotions, which Meursault cannot deal with. The sun becomes a distraction from Meursault’s everyday life and he cannot handle it. It first presents a problem to Meursault at his mother’s funeral.

The weather during the funeral had been beautiful, keeping a neutral tone on Meursault and he felt no grief or sadness. However, once the funeral procession began to walk the “glare from the sky was unbearable” (16). It was very hot and bright, which made him drowsy and showed how he was disinterested in the funeral and bored.

Again the sun makes another appearance towards the end of chapter six, it is the sun shining in his eyes that allegedly motivates Meursault to murder the Arab man. The sun’s heat and glare are enough for Meursault to kill a man, just as in the whole of life, there is no greater meaning there. Ultimately, the sun appears to encourage Meursault, who is already a rather passive fellow, to begin with, to react to the world with the same indifference as reality itself.

Ironically, heat becomes associated with death and the absurdity of life in general.