Security Blanket

The novel Exit West follows Saeed and Nadia, a young couple living in a country that is becoming more war-torn by the day. They then leave their country through magical doors, eventually ending up in Marin County, California. From the beginning of the story, it was evident that Saeed and Nadia would not have a normal relationship, but the lack of normalcy throughout the story allows for a deeper understanding of what it really means to be in a relationship.

As the story moves forward, Saeed and Nadia’s relationship blossoms, and after a certain amount of time, they are all the other has. Throughout the novel, we as readers are taken on the journey with Saeed and Nadia, and the narrative perspective, as well as the amount of descriptive detail, really puts you into the perspective of Saeed and Nadia. We see their arguments, their good moments, as well as aspects of their relationship that occur individually. Due to the nature of their country as well as their lives at the beginning of the story, the couple became a sense of security for each other, the one consistent thing in an ever-changing world. It is only when Saeed and Nadia individually develop their own rhythm that we see the couple’s dynamic change.

Due to their new jobs and meeting of new people, it is evident that Saeed and Nadia do not explicitly need each other anymore. Still, in a long-term relationship such as theirs, love and care can still be present even when other aspects of the relationship are not. Sometimes things do not work out, but dwelling on the past takes up space in the future. Exit West teaches us about endings in a way, and that oftentimes what we may see as the end may not be so. For example, at the end of the story, Saeed and Nadia reunited after decades, and after time apart we see the love and care is still present, “for they were former lovers, and they had not wounded each other so deeply as to have lost their ability to find a rhythm together”(230).

Life and Death

Throughout the story we are taken on a journey through the perspective of Meursault, although his perspective is often one impartial to the happenings of his own life. Although Meursault does not seem to care one way or the other for most things, throughout the story small pieces of insight are introduced as to why he acts with such impartiality, and does not react “appropriately” in many situations. For example, frequently during the story it is held over Meursault’s head that he did not cry at his mothers funeral. During his trial, when questioned, “The director then looked down at the tips of his shoes and said I hadn’t wanted to see Maman, that I hadn’t cried once”(89). The reoccurring mention of Meursault’s lack of tears for his mother adds another air of mystery to the story, as we know of Meursault’s mundane nature. However, in a way it is still confusing to see his reaction based on the societal imprint, and how society’s standards of how we are “meant to react” to something may not always apply. Continuing through the story the question of why Meursault did not cry was at the back of my head, as again, it is so ingrained that it seems ridiculous almost to react in the way Meursault did. However, nearing the end of the story Meursault begins to open up his perspective and speak more about the meaning of life and death. It is during this time that he again reflects on his mother, something he does often throughout the novel despite his seeming indifference.

Meursault gives us some final insight near the ending of the story, as he is making realizations as he knows he will not be free or alive much longer. Meursault states, “So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her”(122).

Although the characters in the story shame Meursault for his reaction to his mother’s death, in a way I find it admirable. In the beginning of the story, with no context, it seems like something is purely wrong with Meursault. However, I believe with this simple line he somehow explained everything. I find it admirable that he has enough consciousness to recognize the meaning of his mother’s life, and to know and acknowledge how she wished or deserved to have her life celebrated.

One Way or The Other

“The Stranger” by Albert Camus features a main character who is seemingly impartial to everything in his life. In the beginning of the story, the main character Meursault, has just lost his mother. However, this is one of the instances where we get our first glimpse into Meursault’s apathetic nature. He has a neither positive nor negative reaction to the death of his mother, but rather thinks of the situation as he does with most others, logically.

For example, the first line of the story is presented as: “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know” (3). Even from the first line Meursault shows no emotion or reaction to the loss of his mother, but instead makes it into a factual statement. Continuing through the story we can continue to see his apathetic view toward many things in his life, including his job and his relationships.

Although the writing is fairly simple the story in itself is perplexing due to the structure of many of the comments made by Meursault. Due to his impartiality, the story is told from a seemingly unbiased viewpoint, even though much of the story revolves around Meursault and his life.

This early in the story it is still mostly a mystery as to why Meursault views the world from this perspective, but he gives some insight when he mentions, “But when I had to give up on my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered” (41). This statement, along with most others throughout the story thus far is not followed with any elaboration, which speaks more to Meursault’s apathetic nature.