Exit West

by

Mohsin Hamid

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Saeed’s Father Character Analysis

A man who has the “slightly lost bearing of a university professor” because he is, in fact, a university professor. Although Saeed’s father taught for many years at a respectable institution, though, he has been unable for financial reasons to fully retire, instead working for “reduced wages” as a visiting faculty member at lesser schools. Married to a former grade-school teacher, he sometimes wonders if he made the right decision regarding his career path; though he originally thought teaching was a noble profession, he wonders as his city plunges into violent turmoil if it wouldn’t have been better to work as a high-powered, money-minded businessman who’d be able to use his money to help his family survive in such times of duress. Still, he leads a happy life with Saeed’s mother. When Saeed’s mother is killed by a stray bullet, though, Saeed’s father finds himself distraught and rudderless. However, when Saeed and Nadia tell him that they’ve secured a passage out of the country, he refuses to leave, telling Saeed that he can’t bring himself to leave behind his wife’s grave and his many friends and relatives. Saeed comes to feel intensely his connection to his country and his family after he has left them behind. Saeed’s father feels that connection so powerfully that he can’t even bring himself to leave them behind in the first place, even if staying is likely to be dangerous. Later, when Saeed and Nadia are living in London, they learn Saeed’s father has died of pneumonia.

Saeed’s Father Quotes in Exit West

The Exit West quotes below are all either spoken by Saeed’s Father or refer to Saeed’s Father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Connection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of Exit West published in 2018.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It was the sort of view that might command a slight premium during gentler, more prosperous times, but would be most undesirable in times of conflict, when it would be squarely in the path of heavy machine-gun and rocket fire as fighters advanced into this part of town: a view like staring down the barrel of a rifle. Location, location, location, the realtors say. Geography is destiny, respond the historians.

Related Characters: Saeed, Saeed’s Father, Saeed’s Mother
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Saeed’s father encountered each day objects that had belonged to his wife and so would sweep his consciousness out of the current others referred to as the present, a photograph or an earring or a particular shawl worn on a particular occasion, and Nadia encountered each day objects that took her into Saeed’s past, a book or a music collection or a sticker on the inside of a drawer, and evoked emotions from her own childhood, and jagged musings on the fate of her parents and her sister, and Saeed, for his part, was inhabiting a chamber that had been his only briefly, years ago, when relatives from afar or abroad used to come to visit, and being billeted here again conjured up for him echoes of a better era, and so in these several ways these three people sharing this one apartment splashed and intersected with each other across varied and multiple streams of time.

Related Characters: Saeed, Nadia, Saeed’s Father, Saeed’s Mother
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

[I]t was an easy promise to make because she had at that time no thoughts of leaving Saeed, but it was also a difficult one because in making it she felt she was abandoning the old man, and even if he did have his siblings and his cousins, and might now go live with them or have them come live with him, they could not protect him as Saeed and Nadia could, and so by making the promise he demanded she make she was in a sense killing him, but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.

Related Characters: Saeed, Nadia, Saeed’s Father, Saeed’s Mother
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Exit West LitChart as a printable PDF.
Exit West PDF

Saeed’s Father Character Timeline in Exit West

The timeline below shows where the character Saeed’s Father appears in Exit West. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Borders, Division, and Fear Theme Icon
...case, Saeed likes his parents. His mother has the “commanding air” of schoolteacher, and his father has the “slightly lost bearing of a university professor.” Although his mother no longer works,... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Saeed’s mother and father met at a movie theater when they were Saeed’s age. Seeing his father across the... (full context)
Escape Theme Icon
...family keeps a telescope in the living room. This telescope was passed down from Saeed’s grandfather to his father, who subsequently gave it to Saeed. Because the city sky is too... (full context)
Chapter 3
Love and Connection Theme Icon
...him after the tumultuous hostage situation the previous day. When Saeed finally returns home, his father goes to bed and “in his bedside mirror glimpse[s] a suddenly much older man.” His... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...wire and “infantry fighting vehicles.” On the first Friday of curfew, Saeed goes with his father to a communal prayer while his mother stays and prays at home, “newly particular about... (full context)
Chapter 4
Love and Connection Theme Icon
...through the windshield of her family’s car.” When Nadia sees how distraught Saeed and his father are at the funeral, she determines to stay with them for the night “to offer... (full context)
Chapter 5
Religion Theme Icon
...they want to know. In this period, Saeed prays a fair amount, as does his father, but Nadia refrains from doing so. Still, she calls Saeed’s fatherfather,” and he calls... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...Saeed and Nadia start to transgress against their own agreement to remain chaste in his father’s apartment. Each night, they become intimate after his father has gone to bed, though they... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...occur frequently as the militants cement their control over the city. Amidst the horror, Saeed’s father travels every day to his brother’s house, where he sits with other old men and... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Borders, Division, and Fear Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...impulse of nostalgia was stronger,” Hamid notes. Still neither Saeed nor Nadia anticipate how Saeed’s father feels about the prospect of leaving; when a note arrives from the agent saying a... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
After convincing his son to let him stay, Saeed’s father calls Nadia to his room and says he’s “entrusting her with his son’s life, and... (full context)
Chapter 6
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Borders, Division, and Fear Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Saeed’s father says his farewell to his son and Nadia the following day, leaving the house without... (full context)
Chapter 8
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...but something human, part of this group.” For a painful moment, he thinks of his father, but a bearded man next to him distracts him by putting his arm around him... (full context)
Chapter 9
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...thinking about the volunteer. Saeed, on the other hand, spends his time thinking about his father, whom he learns from a cousin has died of pneumonia. In response to this news,... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Nadia is also deeply affected by the passing of Saeed’s father, but she isn’t sure how to express it. Her attempts to talk to Saeed about... (full context)
Chapter 10
Religion Theme Icon
...of his days, prayer sometimes remind[s him] of [her].” It also reminds him of his father and his father’s friends, since when he was a teenager he started accompanying his father... (full context)