Exit West

by

Mohsin Hamid

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Saeed’s Mother Character Analysis

A woman who has “the commanding air of a schoolteacher, which she formerly was.” Like Saeed’s father, Saeed’s mother worries about Saeed even though he’s an adult. When he comes home one morning after having failed to tell his parents where he was all night—a night made all the more harrowing by the fact that radical militants took siege of the stock exchange that very day—Saeed’s mother is so overwhelmingly relieved to see him that she finds herself wanting to smack him for causing her so much stress. In this moment, the novel captures an aspect of the complications of love: how it creates connection but also vulnerability, joy but also personal pain, and can lead to instincts of both care and violence. Not long thereafter, Saeed’s mother is killed by a stray bullet. Her funeral is small and the grieving process is somewhat hindered by the fact that it’s dangerous for mourners and well-wishers to travel to the family house to pay their respects. Upon seeing how distraught Saeed and his father are at her funeral, though, Nadia decides to move into the apartment, offering whatever help she can as a way of easing their burdensome grief.

Saeed’s Mother Quotes in Exit West

The Exit West quotes below are all either spoken by Saeed’s Mother or refer to Saeed’s Mother. 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 Mother Character Timeline in Exit West

The timeline below shows where the character Saeed’s Mother 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
...with “decent posts and good educations.” And in any case, Saeed likes his parents. His mother has the “commanding air” of schoolteacher, and his father has the “slightly lost bearing of... (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... (full context)
Borders, Division, and Fear Theme Icon
...of buildings, capturing “windows and walls and rooftops” in the eyepiece. “Behave yourself, Saeed,” his mother chides, and as his parents joke about how he must be spying on naked women,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Love and Connection Theme Icon
...goes to bed and “in his bedside mirror glimpse[s] a suddenly much older man.” His mother, for her part, is “so relieved to see her son that she [thinks], for a... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...first Friday of curfew, Saeed goes with his father to a communal prayer while his mother stays and prays at home, “newly particular about not missing a single one of her... (full context)
Chapter 4
Love and Connection Theme Icon
...roof. Although hesitant at first, Nadia finally decides to move in with Saeed when Saeed’s mother is killed by a “stray heavy-caliber round passing through the windshield of her family’s car.”... (full context)
Chapter 5
Religion Theme Icon
The usual funeral and formal grieving process for Saeed’s mother is truncated by the city’s dangerous circumstances. The relatives who visit do so only briefly,... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...other old men and old women and talks about the past, often reminiscing about his wife, whom they all knew. On his way back, he stops and lingers at her grave.... (full context)
Love and Connection Theme Icon
Borders, Division, and Fear Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...this doesn’t work. When Saeed asks him why he wants to stay, he replies, “Your mother is here.” At this, Saeed relents, understanding what it means for his father to stay... (full context)
Chapter 10
Religion Theme Icon
...to watch his parents pray and wonder what it was like. When he asked his mother, she taught him how to pray, and so “until the end of his days, prayer... (full context)