Saeed’s Relationships in Exit West

Throughout the novel Exit West, Saeed is influenced by many different people, altering the decisions he makes and the way he acts. Most notably, his love for Nadia pushes him to protect her at all costs, ensuring their prosperity together. However, Saeed is also influenced by his family, and his connection and longing for his parents throughout the novel. Saeed is pulled apart by his two devotions, and must make compromises.

Saeed truly cares about Nadia, and it is evident in his actions. For example, Saeed decides to leave his hometown with Nadia, because he cares about her safety. By doing this he is valuing Nadia over his family, as he is leaving his family in his hometown that is ravaged with war and revolt. He also will be unable to see and connect with his parents after leaving with Nadia. Hamid writes, “‘You go first,’ but Saeed, who had until then thought he would go first, to make sure it was safe for Nadia to follow, now changed his mind, thinking it possibly more dangerous for her to remain behind while he went through, and said, ‘no, she will.” (103). Clearly, Saeed is always thinking about Nadia, and how his decisions will impact her.

In addition, Saeed is impacted by his family, even though he is not with them. This is clearly seen in his devotion to prayer and how he feels connected to his family through praying every day. Hamid writes, “When he prayed he touched his parents, who could not otherwise be touched, and he touched a feeling that we are all children who lose our parents, all of us” (202). Undoubtedly, Saeed’s connection to his family is very strong.

Often people are forced to choose between devotion to a significant other and family, and this is a choice that Saeed has to deal with throughout the novel.

The Stranger and The Moviegoer: Detachment and Acceptance

In The Stranger, Meursault is very detached from his life and his experiences. He is often indifferent to what happens around him. This is evident when Meursault describes his altercation with the Arab men on the beach, stating that “it was then that I realized that you could either shoot or not shoot” (56). Meursault is clearly demonstrating characteristics of indifference, even in an important moment in his life like this one. This is very similar to the experiences of Binx in the novel The Moviegoer. Binx often daydreams and wanders the streets without a destination, clearly detached from society and his life. Furthermore, Binx uses movies as a way to escape from the trauma and hardships in his life. Clearly, there is a parallel between Meursault in The Stranger and Binx in The Moviegoer.

In addition, both Meursault and Binx only reach satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment once they accept their fates. In The Stranger, Meursault is able to accept his fate, despite being sentenced to death and in jail, stating that, “for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world” (122). Similarly, in The Moviegoer, Binx finds joy by not dwelling on the hardships and things wrong with his life, but by watching movies as a form of escape. There is clearly a link between Binx and Meaursault, as they both are detached from society around them and they are happy once accepting their fate.

Meursault: Indifferent and Indecisive

Throughout part 1 of The Stranger, Meursault’s actions have reflected his detachment from society. It is clear that his mother’s death has affected him, as he is distant and not completely there in his interactions with the people around him.

In Chapter 6, on the beach, Meursault’s indifference to his surroundings and actions is evident. Camus writes, “We stared at each other without blinking, and everything came to a stop there between the sea, the sand, and the sun, and the double silence of the flute and the water. It was then that I realized that you could either shoot or not shoot” (56).

Meursault’s reaction during this event that many would consider to be traumatic is emotionless. Clearly, he is detached from society to the extent that he does not care if a man is shot or not. This also demonstrates Meursault’s indecisiveness in important situations like this. He believes that it does not matter what he does, so he cannot make a calculated decision. Later on, Meursault describes that “To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing” (57). Meursault is extremely indecisive, and cannot make rational choices.

At the end of part 1, Meursault’s actions further demonstrate his detachment from societal ideals and normalities. Camus writes, “Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness” (59). Undoubtedly, Meursault has emotional problems, as he fires 4 more shots into a man who is already dead. He shows no emotion while doing this, not even anger or hatred. He does it with a blank face, and compares shooting to “knocking… on the door of unhappiness,” clearly demonstrating his detachment from society and his indifference when doing many actions.