No Need, No love

People strengthen bonds from going through experiences together. In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Nadia and Saeed relationship blossoms through every treacherous obstacle they are forced to step over. The two are faced to emigrate to several new countries, leave family behind, and escape the dangerous at home. Nadia and Saeed having gone through this have a stronger connection than if they had stayed at home forever. The comfort of having someone to go through these tolling events can keep someone going. Nadia and Saeed’s connection is romantic. The reader watches the connection develop into a more emotional going farther and farther from surface level. Since these two had to grow this connection over dire times they only know how to connect at dire times. It isn’t until they arrive in Marin where Nadia realizes that she doesn’t know how to further connection and there is no spark.

In Marin, Nadia and Saeed weren’t forced to hide and run as they had to in the past. Instead they joined the community with others and started being apart of something. Nadia got a job and started returning to what is seen as a “normal life”, it is then when she realizes she doesn’t need the comfort of having Saeed anymore. She leaves the home they have and starts sleeping in the vacant room at her workplace. Saeed and Nadia still have love for each other, just the spark and need for each other is missing because they don’t need each other anymore. It seems that when they had so much going on they had this spark that kept them together, but when they have security in themselves its not there and it’s what causes Nadia to leave. Hamid writes “they grew less worried of each other”(223), by saying this he communicates that the situation isn’t as severe but also they have grown apart.

I do still believe that Nadia and Saeed still love each other, however are not in love with each other. When they meet again, they bring up their past relationship and mention the sexual aspect. I do believe that they still have this attachment to each other however they are too apart. For Nadia to even correct him and say they “were having sex”(230) proves that the care is still there. They may have lost the spark that was so powerful for a heavy period of their life, but they definitely will always remember the time they spent together.

The Punishment of Committing an Emotionless Crime

Mersault enters a hearing with press capturing every every movement he dares to make. He is sitting their having a prosecutor depict every part of his personality and relate it back to the crime he committed. Throughout the book we constantly hear the complaints about Mersault not showing any sincerity whatsoever, and in the trial we hear it again. The prosecutor hits Mersault where it hurts and brings up his indifferent response to the passing of his maman. The prosecutor asked if maman passing “had been hard on [him], [he] Maman and I didn’t expect anything from each other anymore”(88). Prior to the prosecutor’s nagging questions Mersault even mentioned how much these never ending questions about her bothered him. This was one of our first glimpses into a chance that he could be vulnerable. His response again shows he chose not to be vulnerable and instead gave an answer that left everyone else in the room doubtful for the future of Mersault. A question that did occur to me was “What if?”. What if Mersault was vulnerable and admitted that all these things were hard on him. Would this trial have gone smoother? I personally doubt the prosecutor wouldn’t have gone any easier and instead use these feelings against him. To everyone else especially the press I think these raw emotions could have helped his case and portray to everyone that he does care about things.

During the actual murder, thoughts feel rushed and emotions feel blocked. “Than i fired four more times at the motionless body”(59), Camus seems to be purposely leaving out any emotions and showing us his actions causing a downwards spiral. This spiral ensues chaos and the last sentence had the word “unhappiness”. It was the first time we were given a name of a feeling by Mersault. We finally see after something grave happens to him, he releases his first emotion of unhappiness. Prior to the maman and dog situations we see little to no regard for any negative emotion, we see an indifferent man ready to continue his life. After him murdering an arab and shooting him four more times we are left with someone who will most likely dwell on this for the next part of the novel. The trials finishes with us knowing he will be executed for his crime, in his last moments we the reader see some sincerity. From the readers perspective it feels “too little, too late”, I do wish that Mersault expressed himself more in the trial. Us knowing he will be executed and not seeing it I think was a good choice by Camus. It leaves us with an imagination of what happened. I think that the brusque unknowing ending really fits Mersaults lack of expression and idea of life.

Emotionally Detached or Emotionally Numb?

When Reading The Stranger, I felt as if I was a viewer into the world of Mersault and all the quirky people that interact with him. It feels like I sitting in the corner of the room watching Mersault right before my eyes. The book felt like everything was moving very fast and things often unraveled but tightened up very quickly. The book being wrote in the 1940’s makes a lot of sense for being revolutionary for its time. The content so far is widely talked about today, but I can imagine when this first came out the taboo followed this book around to every book store selling. I am enjoying the book so far but I still have so many questions that have yet to be answered.

The theme or central idea has yet to be revealed, but Mersault’s attitude and the way he looks at life seem to be a recurring idea that circulates. It started with the conversation at the retirement home, where he put his maman. The complete disregard for his mothers death is shocking, the way he is able to emotionally ignore something so heavy is truly frightening for the future of the novel. There is an argument that something so emotional could have such an effect on him, it could be causing this emotional numbness, but not even in Mersault’s thoughts do we see a glimmer of sincerity. We see some forms of emotional reactions later but still none are considered normal or healthy for the situation. One example is when he is invited to Raymond’s apartment for dinner, and he witnesses animal abuse. “i stood their motionless. And in old Salamano’s room, the dog whimpered”(33). The thoughts of disgust are there but the reader still misses the empathy that is necessary to form healthy human emotions.

From what I have read so far it is evident the reader is in for a for an earthquake of tragic experiences as we the reader sit in that corner and gaze at how lightly he takes everything. I am eager to see if something will happen directly happen to him and not the others around him, maybe that will provoke a response out of him. Or maybe something could happen to Marie (the love interest so far), maybe it is the type of love where we will find the sincerity of his feelings for her. Like i said earlier everyone copes differently and this must be his way.