The Importance of Setting and Atmosphere in the Reluctant Fundamentalist Essay

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Examine the importance of setting and atmosphere in The Reluctant Fundamentalist Mohsin Hamid’s post 9/11 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a venture into the understanding that place, dually in the physical and metaphorical interpretations of the word, is indicative of self. In the determination of protagonist Changez’s fate and in the formation and development of his views and values, it is the sites of his travels, for business purposes or otherwise, that prove most influential. From the pinnacle of ‘technological advancement’ that is New York City to the ‘largely unplanned, unsanitary’ streets of Lahore, the cultural epicentres of Valparaiso and Greece to the modern architecture of Manila, global expedition heralds change in the protagonist. In the transition from pre 9/11 forward-thinking prosperity to the era of social anxiety known as the War on Terror, setting and atmosphere play a role of significance. The ambiance of The Reluctant Fundamentalist mirror’s Changez’s changing attitude towards America and understanding of himself in the milieu of New York City. Indeed representative of the nation of its origin and establishment, valuation firm Underwood Sampson is symbolic of the forward-looking America of opportunity and progress. In the pre 9/11 era, it appears to Changez an institution of ‘uncanny precision’ offering him a ‘robust set of skills and an brand name so exalted [he would be] virtually guaranteed admission to Harvard Business School.’ To all intents and purposes the future is marked by potential, opportunity and advancement, fuelled by the prospect of success in matters of financial gain and upward social mobility that characterises the American dream. Changez’s retention of ‘top rank’ is attributed to a ‘controlled aggression, a determination…a desire to succeed’ so reminiscent of this collective strive to better oneself. His love life

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