Kidder interviews Deo, who is a refugee from Burundi. Deo first comes to America as a young college student with dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. However, when he first comes to the United States and is taken in by another man; he discovers the abject poverty many of his fellow Africans live in while living in the United States. It is hard to make a decent living, especially in New York City. Deo is scarred with the memories of the war he has escaped from and he tells his experiences to the narrator. During part two in the beginning of Chapter Ten, the narrator talks about how he first met Deo and his wife tells him his story because Deo talks to her about them. They know each other through a mutual friend. The narrator ascribes an almost “dream-like” quality to them because they are probably too real for him to fully comprehend. I believe the narrator is pretty much a third-party observer in this piece and doesn’t seem to really connect much with Deo in a personal level. I think he respects him more for what he has gone through as a refugee from a violent civil war.
Baker’s piece “The Escape” is interspersed with both letters Maryam wrote to her parents while she is staying in Pakistan and the author’s own personal reflection on who Maryam was. She also drops some personal tidbits from her own life. I feel like the author in this piece is much more present than Kidder is in “Strength in What Remains”. Maryam is a former secular Jewish girl who has converted to Islam and decides to go live in the house of an erudite Pakistani Muslim scholar so she can learn more about the ways of being an Islamic woman. Later on, she writes books comparing the culture and the ways of the Western world to that of the Islamic world; she seems to think Western ways are much more frivolous. The author mentions after Maryam’s second letter on page 10 that she studies the lives of different people until she can “…think like them”. The author is trying to understand why Maryam thinks the way she does because it is very rare for a Jewish girl to convert to Islam. She is also seen comparing Maryam to herself in different places, like on page 18 when she talks about how she questioned things alot when she was younger but that Maryam must have questioned things for much longer.