Beloved's Last Appearance

Although she disappears after Sethe left her side to attack whom she thought was Schoolteacher, Beloved’s presence is very much felt during the last chapter. Beloved has left town and the townspeople (after finally coming to Sethe’s aid) try to put the memory of Beloved to rest. They keep repeating that Beloved’s story was not one to pass on to future generations. Yet Toni Morrison concludes the novel with the word “Beloved” alone as it’s own paragraph.

This represents the everlasting reminder of the horrible past our country has. Beloved represents the pain and suffering from Sethe’s past coming back to her constantly and she is never able to escape it. Although the townspeople want to escape the past and end the memory of Beloved, she is there in the end and continues to remind people of our brutal past.

Maintaining Relationships

I thought it was both interesting and sad when Hamid wrote about the evolution of the different relationships in the story. He described Saeed’s parents’ relationship, saying that over the years they had sexually distanced themselves from each other and from the way things used to be. Hamid wrote that “Saeed’s mother would sometimes wonder whether he did this out of genuine desire or habit or simply for closeness” (14). Their relationship in a way had lost a flame and it didn’t have an impact on me until Hamid wrote about the dwindling relationship between Nadia and Saeed. On page 200, Hamid describes Nadia’s feelings for Saeed. Nadia wishes she could have their old relationship back and says that she no longer craved his body and that their relationship had become more like siblings. This made me upset because of everything they went through as a couple and their journey together was coming to an end.

This made an impact on me because I feel that a lot of people take relationships for granted. “Exit West” reinforces the importance of relationships opposed to Meursault’s look on life in “The Stranger”. I think when we are on our death bed, we will all look back on the relationships we made with others opposed to how much money we made or how successful we were. Relationships that humans have with one another makes life worth living and it’s important to work hard to maintain healthy and happy relationships in our lives, especially the most important ones.

Evil Heidkamp is Scary

I did not enjoy Evil Heidkamp’s existentialism lecture. The main reason being that I do not agree with the concept of existentialism. Although the lecture made me look at the book a little differently (and that was the point of it), I was annoyed with Evil Heidkamp because I did not agree with most of the points he was making and I kept thinking that he actually supported existentialism. I’ve found myself disliking Camus and The Stranger because of the support of existentialism. I get the fact that there are social constructs that someone just made up at one point in time but it doesn’t matter that they’re made up. These social constructs like family, friends, money, and religion make humans happy because of how we are taught to enjoy life. It’s hard to go through life valuing these constructs and one day hear Evil Heidkamp’s lecture telling you that these constructs are pointless and that life is absurd. I think there’s so much meaning in life and these social constructs because of the happiness and determination it gives people. I understand the concept of existentialism but it’s a hard topic to wrap your head around and it would be a depressing thing to believe in.

“The Cariboo Cafe” Ending

The group discussion about “The Cariboo Cafe” introduced the question: Would the story be better or worse without the last missing page? People made good arguments supporting both sides of the question but I think the last page is what makes “The Cariboo Cafe” a great story and is critical for the reader to appreciate Viramontes’s writing.

The last page is necessary to the story because it provides the reader with a satisfying ending. Although it isn’t quite a happy ending, the reader isn’t guessing as to what happens to the mother and Geraldo. It’s true that the Cafe owner is facing a dilemma and we see his decision to call the cops during the end of page 161, but if the story ended there, the reader doesn’t see how crazy the mother is or the harsh truth of the brutality among cops and illegal immigrants.

Also, Viramontes’s best writing comes on the last page. She writes about death in a way I have never thought of, seen, or read before. Her vivid detail when writing “I hear something like broken glass against my forehead and I am blinded by the liquid darkness” (161.5) drew my attention because of her interesting and unique way of describing death. The story as a whole is confusing and I think the author meant it to be that way but the last page is the most clear part and had me, as a reader, hooked to each word unlike the story’s beginning.