The Girl From Mykonos

One story element of Exit West that I found interesting was Nadia’s encounter with the medical volunteer in Mykonos who treated her after she cut her arm while trying to escape a group of pursuers. Hamid briefly mentions this connection between the two, yet in his use of diction, the connection seems to be pretty strong. Hamid barely talks about their actual experience together. However at the end of the chapter, Hamid describes the farewell between the two, noting that ” Nadia hugged her too, and this hug lasted a long time, and the girl whispered something to her, whispered, and then she and Saeed turned and stepped through the door and left Mykonos behind,”(118). I love the mystery behind this goodbye, the reader never knowing what is whispered by the girl. There were definitely some attractive feelings split between the two and I always wondered what they really were thinking.

What is even more interesting is how Nadia mentions this girl from Mykonos at the end of the book, when contemplating the tension in her relationship with Saeed. Nadia argues that she has not lost her general sensuality, just lost only for Saeed, saying that when “she pleasured herself she thought increasingly of that girl, the girl from Mykonos, and the strength of her response no longer surprised her,” (200). This clearly supports Nadia’s fondness for this girl and how in this broken state between her and Saeed, she finds excitement in thinking her. Overall, I think it’s interesting how much a factor this girl might be in Nadia’s mind and the readers would never even know it. Since it is never explained what Nadia does in the half-century of time that transpires before she and Saeed meet up again, I think it could be possible that Nadia actually went back to Mynokos to rekindle this relationship.

Living on his own terms

After Meursault receives the verdict of the trial, he his awaits execution with endless hours of contemplation. What I thought was interesting was his encounter with the chaplain who visits Meursault in his jail cell. The chaplain visits to instill faith into Meursault before his death, though, this causes him to lash out and insult the chaplain. I was intrigued by this piece of text because it contrasted the normal Meursault behavior we saw throughout the novel. He is usually nonchalant and collected but this time, we see him become physically agitated as he condemns the chaplain.

On page 120, The chaplain says “I am on your side. But you have no way of knowing it, because your heart is blind. I shall pray for you.” The chaplain pleads with Meursault to let him know that he is just trying to help but, Meursault immediately rejects this notion, “I started yelling at him at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me,” (120). This response was a breaking point for Meursault and led him to really accept his opposition to religion and accept the choices he made. From this, we can tell that Meursault can really lose his cool when he is told what to do or how to act, instead of being an agent of his own choices.

We then see Meursault emphasize his satisfaction with the choices he has made. He says, ” I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could have just as well lived it another.” He knows that some choices were better than others but he’s proud that he lived the way he wanted to live. So, as long as Mearsault lives by his own principles, he is content. When others attempt to suppress that freedom that he loves, he loses his composed manner that we are all used to.

Living in the Absurd

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, it is clear from the beginning how disengaged Meursault may live. Although many see this behavior as a dissatisfaction with one’s present condition, I believe Meursault is actually fine with how he experiences his life.

]Similar to Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, Meaursault has accepted the inevitable absurdity of life. He realizes that as an individual we confront binary choices, “It was then that I realized you either shoot or not shoot” (56), and points out the futility in it all, “To stay or to go , it amounted to the same thing”. As Meaursault welcomes the idea that his actions become meaningless it allows the complete unpredictability and peculiar elements of life to seem perfectly normal. This is shown a bit through the encounter with the woman who was eating at Celeste’s.

This brief anecdote is placed randomly within the text where it becomes a total tangent from what Meaursault was previously talking about. Meaursault was first describing a physical connection with Marie when he immediately transports himself to Celeste’s, “I had dinner at Celeste’s. I’d already started eating when a strange little woman came in and asked me if she could sit at my table” (43). Throughout the paragraph, Meaursault depicts the odd behaviors of the woman as she computes her bill, writes down the radio programs of the week, and displays robot-like movements during dinner. Meaursault, in total observation, decides to follow her out of the restaurant then says, ” I thought about how peculiar she was but forgot about her a few minutes later” ( 44). The book then takes the reader back into the flow of the story as Meaursault encounters Salamano. However, going back to the experience with the woman, what was the point? What does this encounter mean and is there any significance to the story as a whole? I’m not sure. Though, I do know it says something about Meaursault’s acceptance of the oddities of life.