Mohsin Hamid’s contemporary novel, Exit West (2017), proposes a world that allows all people to migrate with relative ease across the globe through instantaneous transportation via magical doors. This stylistic choice to use organically emerging, non-state-sanctioned doors as border walls aims to make migration an accessible option for people of all identities. This notion of accessibility is represented as the primary plotline follows the trajectory of two characters using the doors after their unnamed home country is overtaken by militants. Additionally, several vignettes interspersed throughout the novel depict people with various identities who have been transported through doors and the challenges they face immediately upon entering new spaces. The symbol of the magic doors, as well as who is depicted using them, will be analyzed in this paper from the humanitarian perspective that these stylistic choices strive to foster inclusion and empathy for people regardless of identity and reason for migration. By removing the barriers associated with the actual process of migration, Hamid creates a world where migration, or stepping through magical doors, is a chosen and attainable endeavor that supports the agency of people who desire to relocate. This contrasts with the reality of displaced people who endure dangerous situations in attempt to seek safety from the traumatic circumstances in their current location, only to be denied and further traumatized.
Dietrich, Kelsey Madison
"Empathy and Unity in Exit West,"
International ResearchScape Journal: Vol. 8, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/irj/vol8/iss1/2
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