Status Migrant

Being a migrant, presumptions and aspects of their being can typically be assumed, but the more perspectives one is able to obtain, the better their understanding and outlook can be formed to create a more equal recognition of the other beings. In the novel Exit West written by Mohsin Hamid, he narrates the story of migrants who are trying to escape from the violent conflict in their country. He represents the migrants,  in general, in conflicting perspectives, showing them on one side of a situation, as powerful or the other, lacking power. Hamid describes the migrants’ reaction to the arsenal used by the military, stating that they “were frightening, because [the arsenal] suggested an unstoppable efficiency, an inhuman power” (154). Hamid puts forth the perspective of the government’s forces as the callous and brutal “predators”, who assert an overpowering threat upon the migrants who he shows as the weak and defenseless “prey”. Hamid’s depiction of the migrants’ dominant opponent, who, in teasing the migrants, initiates a feeling of dread and uneasiness for them, helped portray their lack of power and vulnerability against the government’s power. 

When the migrants are narrated as powerful, Hamid writes, “[F]or armed resistance would likely lead to a slaughter, and nonviolence was surely their most potent response, shaming their attackers into civility” (154). A collaboration of ideas between the migrants in Saeed and Nadia’s neighborhood is arranged, they seek to protect their youths as well as their morals. The council determines that they will guilt their oppressors into realizing the unreasonable efforts of their attack. They are able to fight their opponents psychologically instead of physically, which they knew would fail in taking control and dominance of the situation as well as compromise their morals. In presenting these contrasting representations, it sheds light on experiences that diverge from the typical binary, adding to the unconventional perspective for migrants, and giving notice to the more authentic side of being a migrant.

Marie’s Testimony

In part two of The Stranger, Albert Camus describes Meursault’s experience throughout the trial. We are taken through the testimonies of several people along with Celeste, Meursault’s friend and Marie, his “love interest”. 

At first she seems like an open book, she willingly gives details of their relationship and a key date that the prosecutor points out “was the day after Maman died” (93). This provided some weight to the prosecution’s debate in Meursault’s lack of emotion or reaction to his mother’s death as earlier mentioned by the director and caretaker. Marie had unintentionally played into their hands, further strengthening their argument and in the process hurting Meursault’s defence. 

The prosecution continues on by having Marie explain what they had done on that day. In this instance she understood that she must be cautious of what she would say knowing the weight of her words could hurt Meursault. Additionally she also seems a bit reluctant to give out details possibly because she wanted to keep the memories only to herself and Meursault.

When asked what movie they had watched that day Meursault describes that “[i]n an almost expressionless voice she did in fact tell the court that it was a Fernandel film” (94). Fernandel films are known to be comical and providing this detail, Marie is seen accepting the consequences of her actions. She recognizes her doing and is now burdened with the knowledge that she has aided in the downfall of her partner.

French Smoke

Reading part one of The Stranger, originally written in French by Albert Camus, I noticed the vast amount of smoking mentioned. It is well known that smoking is a culturally historic activity that many French residents and their youths partake in. As a result of Camus’ ability to incorporate a part of French culture in his novel, it has helped provide more insight into the characters’ background and nature. 

To make note of Albert Camus’ consistent mentions of the times Meursault, the narrator, smokes, he writes about a moment where he is hesitant to do so because “[he] didn”t know if [he] could do it with Maman right there” (8). In this moment Meursault is troubled with the decision of being imprudent knowing the conditions of the situation at hand. We can see here that the timely manner at which someone smokes in the story aids in providing a better understanding of a character’s frame of mind.

Typically smoking can be seen as a careless and unconscious activity that one may participate in but in another can be presented as a sign of disrespect. Near the end of the fourth chapter, Meursault’s neighbor, Raymond, is interrupted by a police officer amidst the beating of his mistress saying, “Take that cigarette out of your mouth when you’re talking to me…then the cop slapped him” (36).  Here, the presence of the cigarette dispensed an insulting impression of Raymond to the police officer. We can further infer that smoking has a noticeably large impact in the perception and mutual recognition of us towards others and vice versa.