Reconstruction of Cliché Image of Oriental Woman in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West


  • Kuğu Tekin Assist. Prof. Dr., Atılım University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of English Language and Literature
  • Zeynep Rana Turgut


Mohsin Hamid, Exit West, oriental woman cliché, reversed gender roles


This paper attempts to hold a mirror to the existential struggle of an immigrant Muslim woman who is trying to survive on her journey to the west. Mohsin Hamid presents Nadia as one of the main characters in his 2017 novel Exit West. The paradox concerning Nadia is that while her preference for wearing a long black robe confirms the western misconstrued image of Muslim women, her actions, her view of the world, of life and of herself definitely refute the ingrained eastern notion of the suppressed, submissive, silenced Muslim woman. According to the dominant western view, oriental women are still under the strict control of the mechanisms of patriarchy. Among the control mechanisms of patriarchal order are traditions, norms, values and religion. However, Nadia does not fall into this western miscategorization of Muslim woman with her strong, rebellious character, and with her freethinking and insight. Indeed, it is Nadia, who safeguards, directs and in a sense, matures Saeed’s-the other main character-rather timid and naïve personality. What is unexpected in the journey of these two characters is that the one who is need of identity reconstruction is not the female but the male character, for Nadia does already have a firmly constructed identity and she has no intention to transform either her outfit or her world view for the sake of integrating herself into the western culture. In brief, through the character of Nadia, Mohsin Hamid reconstructs the cliché image of oriental woman. In Exit West, Hamid reverses stereotyped gender roles by attributing his female character all the dominant personality traits attached to the male sex.