The Faces of Migration in Exit West

At first glance the magical doors in Exit West that transport those who enter to a new location seem to represent hope, freedom, and the breaking of boundaries. However, these portals are meant to represent the constant grapple that migrants are faced with when leaving their homeland. The hope for new opportunities contrasts with the fear and nostalgia of leaving home. Shown by the camps in Mykonos and the houses in London, upon arrival migrants struggle with alienation and the longing for connections in a place filled with people who appear different from themselves.  

The contradicting feelings on migration between Nadia and Saeed are representative of the yearning for new opportunities contrasted with the pain of leaving what is familiar and comfortable. In Nadia’s case, she embraces migration as a pathway to a new life whereas Saeed is more fearful about leaving his father behind in a potentially dangerous situation. Through Nadia and Saeed, Hamid portrays how migrants are swept up by seemingly mandatory migration both willingly and unwillingly. Hamid presents migration as an inevitable occurrence that should be embraced or at least accepted since it cannot be denied. 

Can One Truly Live an Existentialist Life?

The quote “existence precedes essence” is often referred to as the foundation of existentialism. In just three words it summarizes that our surroundings cannot be changed by the individual, but our existence allows us to create our own values and meaning of life. The basis of existentialism is that human life doesn’t possess any real meaning or value until it is created by an individual. 

Existentialist philosophy appeals to many as it is characterized by individualism and freedom, however, the problem that arises from the lack of foundation is that it overemphasizes a separate sense of self. We live in a society where humans interact with other people and objects, therefore there are certain truths we must abide by. This evokes the question of whether one can truly live an existentialist life in today’s society. The answer to this question is that we can partially abide by the principles of existentialism. Through different experiences and adapting to our circumstances we are able to find everlasting personal meaning in life, nevertheless there will always be constraints that prevent us from living a completely existentialist lifestyle. 

The Sun in The Stranger

In The Stranger, the sun is used to symbolize Meursault’s inner conflicts and feelings about the meaning of life. The sun and heat persist without any regard for comfort which symbolizes Meursault’s general dismissal of humanity. 

During the funeral, instead of being overwhelmed by emotion, Meursault is focused solely on his physical discomfort from the sun. He states that the sun and heat were “unbearable” and made it “hard for [him] to see or think straight”. This however is a direct contrast with the earlier feelings of happiness that he felt during the funeral that originated from cigarettes. The physical discomfort represented by the sun can symbolize one’s lack of importance in the world and how in Meurault’s mind death and pain can’t be avoided so therefore there is little meaning in life. The motif of the sun returns later in the passage when Meursault kills the Arab man. He again describes the sun as a “burning which [he] couldn’t stand anymore” and directly relates it to the sensations he experienced during his mothers funeral. 

Overall the sun has a very negative connotation. In both instances the negative description of the sun appears to foreshadow some type of bad event in Meursault’s life.