“Saeed desperately wanted to leave his city, in a sense he always had, but in his imagination he had thought he would leave it only temporarily…the scattering of his extended family and his circle of friends and acquaintances, forever, struck him as deeply sad, as amounting to the loss of a home, no less, his home.” 

    This quotation, which appears in Chapter Five, reflects Saeed’s perspective as to how migration will impact his life. Unlike Nadia, who largely looks forward to experiencing different cultures, Saeed feels a deep connection to his home and laments the losses that moving away will inevitably cause. This attitude reflects Saeed’s introspective nature and emphasizes his overall desire to maintain a sense of normalcy despite the chaos that characterizes his country. For him, the pain of losing the only world he has ever known looms larger than the possible benefits that leaving may provide.

“…here in this house he was the only man from his country, and those sizing him up were from another country and there were far more of them, and he was alone. This touched upon something basic, something tribal, and evoked tension and a sort of suppressed fear."

    In Chapter 8, Saeed’s anxieties about migration become even more apparent as he struggles with the idea of living among people of different cultures and nationalities. This quotation in particular suggests that his hesitation comes from an instinctual fear of the unknown rather than any specific prejudices, a distinction which allows his character to function as a reflection of migrants or refugees more broadly. Saeed ultimately spends the remainder of the novel searching for a sense of familiarity, and this trajectory reflects the experiences of so many who find themselves uprooted from their homes.

“Now, though, in Marin, Saeed prayed even more, several times a day, and he prayed fundamentally as a gesture of love for what had gone and would go and could be loved in no other way.” 

Saeed’s spirituality is one of his most defining characteristics, and, in Chapter 10, Hamid takes time to explain how his understanding of religion developed. As he grew up, prayer became a symbol of goodness that he associated with his loving parents and eventually adopted for himself. Saeed’s desire to pray, however, increases exponentially as he finds himself grappling with the impact that violence and displacement have on his life. Especially since he was unable to bring many personal possessions when escaping his country, this cultural practice allows him to maintain a sense of connection to the people and places he has lost.