Everyone is a Migrant

Towards the end of Exit West, Hamid introduces a new character, an old woman from Palo Alto. The old woman has lived in the same house in Palo Alto her whole life and as she sees Palo Alto change over time, she starts to feel like an outsider. 

The community has changed so much that she doesn’t really leave her house. She feels like a migrant in the town she’s lived in her whole life. She’s seen new people move in and out of her neighborhood and doesn’t even bother trying to get to know them anymore. She loses her sense of belonging in the community. She compares this to the exclusion that comes with being a migrant. She has migrated through time.

I like how Hamid creates a connection between everyone. Migrants or not. It breaks down the traditional power dynamic that others migrants by pointing out something migrants and “natives” have in common.

Existentialism in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”

The Monty Python world is always absurd and not necessarily full of meaning but that is particularly prevalent in their last moving The Meaning of Life. 

In The Meaning of Life, the Monty Python cast attempts to discover the meaning of life. In the film, the stages of life: birth, growing up, war, middle age, organ transplants, old age, and death, are told through sketches and songs. 

In one scene, two tourists are having a conversation about philosophy and eventually give up, stating there is no point. In another scene, corporate executives attempted to discuss the meaning of life but eventually decided it might have anything to do with people not buying enough hats. 

Additionally, throughout the film, there is a recurring theme of the pointlessness of death. In one scene, soldiers yawn as a violent battle is occurring all around them. In another scene, soldiers try to celebrate their captain’s birthday but keep getting shot in the process. 

At the end of the film, they finally reveal the meaning of life to be “Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book every now and then”.

The overall theme of the film seems to be the pointlessness of life and death and the absurdity of even trying to figure it out.

The Poor Dog

I find the unusual relationships between Salamano and his dog and Meursault and his mother very interesting. There are many surprising similarities between the two. 

Meursault and his mother seemed to have a rather distant relationship. While Meursault did seem to have some concern that his mother was taken care of when he couldn’t do it himself, after her death, he doesn’t seem to be emotional in any way. At her funeral, Meursault was distracted by the heat and his exhaustion and he never understood why his mother’s friends were crying at the vigil. Even when he gets home and has had time to process his mother’s death, he still doesn’t seem phased at all. “It occurred to me that one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed” (24).

Unlike Meursault’s indifferent relationship with his mother, Salamano and his dog seem to actively hate each other when they are first introduced to us. Salamano abuses his dog and doesn’t seem to have any emotional connection to it until later in the story. 

Salamano and Meursault both neglect the things they are supposed to be caring for. Salamano assumes that Meursault had a lot of love for his mother despite sending her to a home, just like Salamano loved his dog even though he beat it. 

The main difference between these two relationships is the reaction Salamano had when his dog ran away. “He shut his door and I heard him pacing back and forth. His bed creaked. And from the peculiar little noise coming through the partition, I realized he was crying” (39). Salamano clearly is grieving and despite his previous statements about not wanting to pay the fee to get the dog back, he clearly doesn’t like the idea of the dog being all alone in the pound. Conversely, Meursault never seemed to really grieve his mother’s death. He never expressed or implied any regret about the relationship he had with her and overall, had a general indifference towards the situation. 

While the dynamic between Salamano and his dog was much more violent and harmful than that of Meursault and his mother, Salamano seemed to have a stronger connection to the dog than Meursault ever had to his mother.