Overview of the topic

In her essay “Living With Strangers”, Siri Hustvedt explores the slightly bizarre social convention we have when living in a big city: We ignore one another to protect ourselves. Particularly if we witness something that goes beyond the bounds of normality.

Hustvedt is highly influenced by her choice of genre in the way she examines the topic. Since “Living With Strangers” is an essay, she never offers any definite conclusions but leaves it up to us to reflect on the topic and what might be morally right or wrong. Hustvedt illustrates the topic of big city life through several examples from her own life, which helps bring the topic alive to the readers.

Her text was written in 2002, but because urbanization is still increasing, her topic seems more relevant than ever. As more and more of us will end up living and working alongside hundreds of strangers at one point or another in our lives, it is important that we become aware of the social codes of conduct in a big city and the potential consequences of following them.


Siri Hustvedt’s essay can be divided into three main parts. In the first p...

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