Stressful Circumstances

As many know stress can have many adverse effects on relationships, but it can also bring people closer. Mohsin Hamid does a great job illustrating how damaging stress can be on a relationship, but also how stressful circumstances can strengthen a relationship. Nadia and Saeed start off extremely passionate, always wanting to be together and meeting each other, “Nadia and Saeed began to meet during the day, typically for lunch…Saeed was certain he was in love. Nadia was not certain what exactly she was feeling, but she was certain it had force” (53-54). They are always together, enjoying each other’s company, and texting. As the story progresses we see Nadia and Saeed’s passion begin to fade seemingly as the result of the extreme circumstances they are forced into. After leaving home, going to Mykonos, and then traveling to London we begin to see Saeed and Nadia having disagreements and arguing, “She emerged from the bathroom wrapped in her towel..he said, looking at her, ‘you can’t stand here like that.’ ‘Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.’ … they sep on the slender single bed together without speaking, without touching, or without touching more than the cramped space demanded, for this one night not unlike a couple that was long and unhappily married” (126-127). Both haven’t been comfortable for months, being in new places and in other people’s homes. Saeed is understandably worried because of this and both of their inability to relax has seemed to cause them to become irritable. Hamid’s depiction of the effect of the stress of migration on their relationship draws parallels between the effects of migration on families as well.

The way many people view migrants today is negative. We fail to see things from their point of view and consider the fact that they may have and probably don’t want to leave their home country. We fail to see the many adverse effects migration has on the people forced to do it. We don’t seem to understand that people are leaving out of necessity and not choice. They are forced to separate from their families and friends and yet many people make rude demeaning comments and hateful attacks against migrants. I think one of the main purposes of Hamid’s novel is to make a comment on the poor treatment of migrants and give people the ability to see their perspectives and allow us to understand the reality of many migrants’ situations.

Living to Live

Throughout Albert Camus’, The Stranger, Mersault struggles deriving the true meaning of his life. He at first struggles with conforming to social expectation and what people say the meaning of life is. Throughout the novel we see Mersault’s attitude towards Marie as emotionless and disconnected, but towards the end of the novel we get a true insight into his feelings, “I had been looking at the stones in these walls for months. There wasn’t anything or anyone in the world I knew better. Maybe at one time, way back, I had searched for a face in them. But the face I was looking for was as bright as the sun and the flame f desire – and it belonged to Marie” (119). This seems to show that Mersault felt more that just a physical attraction to Marie and one could even say he loved her, but as we approach the end of the novel Mersault’s confrontation with the priest seems to shatter his attachment to any socially expected means of life and his attachment to the idea of love. After becoming annoyed with the priest Mersault says, “I..told him not to wast his prayers on me…. None of his certainties was worth one hair of a woman head. He wasn’t even sure he was alive because he was living like a dead man…we’re all elected by the same fate” (120-121). His confrontation with the priest caused him to realize the only meaning to life was living because everyone died in the end, regardless of what they did during their lives.

I personally agree with this outlook on life. The compliance to the falsified meanings of life such as success, money, power, religion, or love seem to cause more pain than they do happiness. People try to achieve these things before they die, often focused on the past or future. This disconnect from the present moment causes them to miss the experiences right in front of them, and in the end then only thing you really have before death is what you have done and experienced.

Emotional Disconnect

In the novel, The Stranger by Albert Campus, the narrator, Meursault, is continuously depicted as non-feeling and lacking emotion. On multiple occasions where one would normally be upset, Meursault displays absolutely no reaction to the situation. We first see this in the reaction to his mothers death, “It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that , really, nothing had changed” (24). He seems to have no opinoin on anything throughout the story and he has this attitude that nothing matters. His lack of emtion becomes more concerning as it begins to upset other people.

Marie, the girl he has been involved with throughout the story, asks him if he would like to marry her and his response is “It didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” (41), he also says that he “probably didn’t love her” (41). Marie is obviously upset by this and very confused. Meursault seems extremely disconnected from the world around him, almost as if he view it as a separate thing altogether that has no effect on him. His lack of emotional response to anything throughout the story makes me wonder what could have possibly caused him to become this far disconnected emotional from his relationships.

He eludes to his time of realization that nothing matters by saying “When I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered” (41). This makes me wonder what crushed his previously present ambition? What caused him to mentally separate himself from society? He also speaks of having no dissatisfaction with life, but also having no happiness in it. He almost seems as if he has become so separated from society and connection that he is just watching as his body moves through life, not actively encouraging or opposing events.