Dreams, Doors, and Death: Exploring Liminal Space and Mortality in Exit West and The Farming of Bones


  • Grace Babcock Ball State University




Oftentimes, the most complicated narratives challenge the permanence of death by emphasizing the impermanence of the human experience. This is frequently accomplished through the creation of liminal spaces in text, which become almost purgatorial in their function. Here, characters choose to confront and embrace the inevitability of death or to reemerge into life. In Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, the linear historical narrative her main character Amabelle creates is interspersed with bolded sequences that draw from both her memories and her dreams. In order to come to terms with the trauma of the Haitian Massacre, these chapters communicate Amabelle’s physical and psychological turmoil. Similarly, Moshin Hamid’s Exit West centers on refugees Nadia and Saeed's multiple passages through doors blackened by the sudden, spontaneous creation of international portals. As the couple moves through several doors and across several borders, their relationship to each other and themselves constantly evolves. Amabelle’s dreams are manifestations of her acceptance of death and embrace of her mortality, while the portal-doors function as avenues for rebirth. Thus, Hamid and Danticat explore the complicated relationship human beings have with death and mortality in the wake of trauma through their rich descriptions of liminal space.


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How to Cite

Babcock, G. (2022). Dreams, Doors, and Death: Exploring Liminal Space and Mortality in Exit West and The Farming of Bones. Digital Literature Review, 9(1), 72–81. https://doi.org/10.33043/DLR.9.1.72-81

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