Embracing the Change

Humans, as a general whole, do not like change. Change scares us, it threatens our sense of normalcy, and worst of all, its impending and inescapable nature causes the consistency in our lives to be forever fleeting. As a result, as humans, we cherish the stable, unchanging moments when we can find them. We avoid the uncomfortable and the unknown so when they come to our doorstep we run, hide, or fight. An example, highlighted within the novel Exit West, is the constant migration of people to other countries. When we see other people coming into the place we call our home we, as a general whole, run, hide, or fight. Those who choose the option to run will move themselves in an attempt to avoid the new flow of people. Many white people used this tactic in the form of white flight when people of color, who they saw as different and therefor a threat, were moving into their neighborhoods. Those who choose to hide ignore the reality of the situation in an attempt to preserve their sense of normalcy. People often use this tactic when they encounter those without a home. They would rather ignore them and pretend that they weren’t there than acknowledge them as fellow human beings. Lastly, we are left with the third response. Fight. Those who choose to do so fight the influx of new people, ideas, or situations in a futile attempt to resist change. Life, however, is in a constant state of evolution. Nothing remains unchanged and, as seen in Exit West, that change can be, and often is, positive. As a result of the doors, people from all over the world blended together and moved to new places, bringing their culture with them. Marin became a hub of different and new things all coming together to create “a great creative flowering in the region” (217). When we come together as humans and embrace the change and our new circumstances, instead of being destructive towards ourselves and one another, we can create beautiful new things and share our unique experiences with each other, as they did in Marin, creating a better, more accepting and united society.

The Proximity of Death

Meursault is a character that many readers initially deem as insane. As the story progresses, however, those readers grow to understand Meursault better as a character. Initially, Meursault is seen as a emotionless, disconnected, shell of a man who has no care in the world for even the death of his mother. He sheds no tears and when prompted, declines to see her body before it is buried.

Three deaths occur during the story, yet only one breaks Meursault. Throughout the first two deaths, Meursault remains steadfastly devoted to his beliefs. He is not tied up by relationships, religion, or monetary success. When faced with his own death, however, Meursault clings to hope until there is none left for him to reach for. It is then, when he realizes the proximity and inevitability of his death that he breaks. He abandons his principals and gives to panic and terror when he lashes out at the chaplain, but in the end he is left with nothing.

Alone in his cell, Meursault is forced to come to terms with his death. It is then, after his blind rage “had washed me clean, rid me of hope” that he finally accepts the “gentle indifference of the world.” Earlier in the story, Meursault would not have accepted his fate. Only when his execution looms mere hours away does he become “ready to live it all again” and accepts his life and the inevitability of his death. In different circumstances, had he died suddenly, he would have never come to the same conclusion.

The Simplicity of Life

Life, often seen as a complex web that many struggle to find the meaning to, can be explained in 3 rules.

  1. Life is random.
  2. Life is irrational.
  3. Life is senseless.

You may find that these three rules are difficult to believe, but upon further scrutiny, are accurate. If you take a moment to think all the way back to your birth, it becomes quite clear. Why were you born? Why were you born to your parents and not others? Why were you born in your country instead of a different one? Nobody can control their birth. Birth is the very first thing placed upon you and, ultimately, is random, senseless, and irrational.

Think back on your childhood for a moment. Why did you meet the people that you did? Why did you form connections with the people you did and not others? Where you grow up, your connections, your family’s wealth, everything that initially made up who you were was ultimately up to a random roll of the dice.

If we allow ourselves to accept these three rules, life becomes quite simple. If you recognize that life, society, and the circumstances we find ourselves in are all absurd, then you no longer need to feel bound to them or play by their rules. You can rid yourself of the stresses of something, that ultimately, was an accumulation of random events throughout history, each depending on other random events themselves.

If life can be narrowed down to three rules, it becomes easy to see the simplicity of it all. Upon choosing to do so, we are no longer bound by or forced to accept the rules that society has laid out for us, and can truly become our own unique individuals.