The Invisible Third Person in Saeed and Nadia’s Relationship

Saeed and Nadia’s relationship is not one we often see in novels or movies. Compared to many representations, which come off as spontaneous and easy, the two characters relationship reaches depths of pain, irritation, and fear that is rarely ever shown. But, more rare, is seeing the death of a relationship. And a “death” is exactly what occurs in “Exit West”, or at least how it is portrayed by Hamid.

Hamid writes the relationship of Saeed and Nadia like a third person, complete with multiple facets and an ability to be born and to die. Throughout the book, this new person goes through so many changes and shifts: innocently childlike and playful at the beginning of the book; hopeful but weighed down as the two start travelling across the world; broken and tired nearing the end, but somehow still aware. Just as the two characters grow, so does the relationship, but it almost seems as though the relationship is responding in accordance with it’s environment, as a person interacts with their environment, and not as a result of the characters individual actions. And in the end, just as a person dies, the relationship must as well. Nearing the end of the book Saeed and Nadia bury a drone, and soon after part ways and start separate lives. This burial isn’t just the literal burial of the drone but seems to represent an understanding of the end of another life, their relationship. Something Hamid does well is make the end natural. A natural death, just as it was a natural beginning. Because although this third person died, it shouldn’t prevent a celebration of it’s life or an acknowledgment of it’s existence. Hamid makes sure of this.

Existentialism Has Changed How I Think About the World (Or Maybe Just College)

This week in class we were slapped in the face with the extreme nature of Existentialism. Both the philosophy, added to the jarring progression of Meursault’s character throughout The Stranger, gives a very intense image of the worldview. But, as I’ve been giving it some thought this week, some aspects of Existentialism could perhaps add a new perspective to our lives as we know it.

Personally, especially as we are moving into senior year, I think that many of us are acting far too concerned with the minor details. This may be a reflection of my own mindset but as I’ve been moving into the college application process (& related events) I’ve been extremely concerned with the tiny things. My mind has been packed with every single email I need to send and every single word I need to write instead of looking at the bigger picture. As we’ve continued through our week, this perspective I’ve been taking has moved to the forefront of my mind. And, maybe as a result of these past weeks lessons, I’ve started to question if this mindset is helping anyone? Although I don’t believe I’m going to become a full on existentialist, being able to internalize the concept that the little things, and evens some larger aspects of our lives, don’t actually hold as much worth or meaning as we think is calming. Yes, I could stress about the wording for a sentence in my common app essay, but how much does that really matter? Out of everything I’ve learned this week about existentialism, I think the thing that I’ve become more aware of is that how much something matters isn’t a fixed point but a scale. And, being aware of this scale has helped me prioritize what I let take up my mental energy, and therefore my life.

“Victory Lap” and our Inability to Humanize the “Enemy”

Pieces of writing nowadays can take us through many different perspectives and points of view. We can see through the eyes of a schoolgirl from the 1800’s, a stockbroker during the great depression, or just your average teenager. But, what we don’t often get to see through are the eyes of those we are pitted against.

What surprised me the most about “Victory Lap”, looking past the very interesting characters and detailed plot line, was the writers choice to have a part of the story be told from the point of view of the assailant. We are often fed the backstory of a villain as a way to pick out his or her motives from the short list that is usually given (revenge, jealousy, etc.). We can infer from that a carefully and (often) simple narrative of why they do what they do. But, what is not always presented is the full perspective. This could include shows of emotional response, less relevant personal information, or even just a glimpse into how their mind actually functions. It is almost as if we are afraid to give these villains (or whatever you’d call them) full access to the human spectrum. We need to have an invisible wall between “us” and “them”.

Recently, these in depth narratives have been showing up more and more. What first comes to my mind are the surprisingly large number of Netflix documentaries focused on the backstories and minds of killers, depicting very detailed accounts of very gruesome topics and people. I think it’s interesting to see our society bringing awareness to the fact that these people are still human, and humans are capable of theses kinds of things. And, although it can be frightening to take down any walls that separate the “villains” from the “protagonists”, doing so can also provide insight into how certain actions come to be, and maybe even how they can be prevented.