Exit west is a novel written by a Pakistani author by the name of Mohsin Hamid which centers on emigration and problems faced by refugees. The novel follows the story of two characters, Nadia and Saeed, who reside in an unnamed city that is on the brink of a civil war. The two characters interact and fall in love amidst the current situation in their city. When the city further plunges into turmoil, the two characters find it extremely difficult to go on with their normal lives. When rumors start flying around about the existence of black doors that have the capability of transporting people from one place to another, they flee through the black doors which take them to different locations around the world. The two characters go through challenges as refugees and they end up drifting apart and living different lives but they meet one another after fifty years. The author uses different styles in the novel that have effects on the reader such as omitting certain details.
The author of the novel leaves out some important details in the story such as the name of the city that Nadia and Saeed are from. This omission of the location’s name ensures that the story does not center on a specific crisis. This is because some issues such as refugees, religion and immigration are often very controversial issues and tying them to a specific place or crisis can spark controversy. A controversial issue is one that presents a challenge and stimulates debate as it does not involve any universally held or fixed point of view meaning that any issue can become controversial when people hold different beliefs, views or values (Woolley, pg 281). Therefore, when the author avoids mentioning the name of the city, he avoids raising controversies that surround refugee issues.
However, despite the fact that the author omits the name of the city, there are some practices that are mentioned such as the act of praying throughout the day and women wearing robes. These practices imply that the religion practiced in the city is of Islamic faith though this is not explicitly explained. This approach offers thought-provoking insights for readers to make their own conclusions such as which city this could be, for instance, based on the religious implications present. Thought-provoking aspects make the book more interesting as it makes the readers think more deeply about the issues presented in the book. If the author had mentioned the name of the city, then a reader’s mind would make conclusions based on that information instead of thinking for themselves. This omission of the city’s name influences the reader’s mind during the reading process as well as how the reader reacts emotionally to the text based on the reception he/she has. The reception of literary texts can often be influenced by socio-demographic factors present in the text such as religion, race, and country of origin. Since the city’s name has been omitted, then the reception of the reader towards the book is also influenced since readers cannot be swayed or biased by any opinions he/she may have regarding a certain place.
The omission of the name of the city also creates an ambiguity in the text that makes it difficult for the reader to contextualize the deep messages in the book in regards to religion, race, and refugees. The author uses ambiguity in the novel as a literary device in the hope that the readers will make their own personal connection to the book without having already formed their own opinions based on the city’s name. Ambiguity also challenges the viewpoints in the book as the author allows for more than one interpretation by only implying the religion of the characters instead of explicitly explaining the religion and the city’s name. This means that despite having a clue on the religion of the characters, it is not automatically possible to know the city in which they reside. The characters could be from any city in the world. This creates a lot of room for different interpretations by the readers which make the book more challenging and interesting. One can say that literary texts always express meaning on different levels or different layers (Lethbridge, pg 7).
The author’s exclusion of the city’s name affects the reader in such a way that he/she can be able to sympathize with the refugees and the experiences they go through without having prejudices that might have been associated with the city, had it been named. It helps readers to suppress the misconceptions associated with the refugees from a particular city or background. Therefore, the author’s move of keeping Nadia’s and Saeed’s city unnamed can be seen as a way of the author universalizing the predicament that refugees face. Since it does not mention a specific city, it means that the city being referred to could be any city in the world. This shows that the issue of immigration and refugees is a universal problem that can be faced by anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. The effect is that readers become encouraged to put themselves in the shoes of such refugees and to empathize with them without being influenced by their country of origin. In some cases, refugees are often judged or discriminated based on where they come from. Previous research based on cross-sectional data found that European citizens favor asylum seekers who are Christians over those who are Muslims (Ulf, pg 1). This is an example of how the country of origin creates prejudices when it comes to refugees. People often have preconceived opinions the minute they learn of a refugee’s background such as country of origin as well as religion.
When the reader omits the name of the city from where Nadia and Saeed flee, he encourages readers to feel compassion for the refugees and to understand their plight without being concerned about their country of origin. Readers are influenced to understand that the two characters stand for every refugee as they are not tied to being refugees of only one specific city. They are all human beings who go through terrible experiences despite where they come from such as being apart from their loved ones. When we migrate, we murder from our lives those that we leave behind (Hamid, pg 94). If the reader had mentioned the name of the city, the reader might have had a preconceived opinion that can bias the way they feel about the refugee experience. For instance, if a reader has a negative attitude towards a certain city and its inhabitants, then they cannot feel sympathetic to refugees from that city. Therefore, the omission means that the readers are influenced to have feelings that are not tied to any prejudices or biases. (Struggling with your assignment, order custom essay paper)
Overall, I strongly feel that the exclusion of the city’s name by the author greatly influences the emotions that a reader gets from reading the novel. It helps to generalize the issue discussed in the novel by not tying the experience to a specific city or background. Therefore, readers are free to make their own connections and conclusions without being biased to the misconceptions associated with a specific location.