The Reluctant Fundamentalist Essay

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After reading the last page of The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, I was hard pressed to find a solution to the anxiety that had built in my chest. Was I really sympathizing with Hamid’s anti-American novel? Did I actually understand what he meant about America’s overwhelming superiority being brought to its knees? Was I guilty of the same prejudices toward Islamic people that were prevalent throughout the book? The pointedness of these caustic realizations was enough to create an uneasiness that left me baffled. However, after having considered the rationality of Hamid’s thoughts, I was able to accept, perhaps a little reluctantly, the work for what it was. The Reluctant fundamentalist is a one-hundred eighty-four page monologue that deeply entrenches the reader in the divisions between the West and the Islamic World. In the novel, a verbally unresponsive American listens to the verbal history of a twenty-five year old Princeton educated Pakistani. This interaction, which takes place in a café in Lahore, is meant to depict Hamid’s long awaited opportunity to display his thoughts of a post September eleventh America. A tension develops in the sidebar conversations Hamid’s protagonist, Changez has with an un-identified American. A suspenseful tension pushes the novel forward and coaxes the American reader to internalize Hamid’s thoughts. The mutual suspicion created by the unique interaction opens the American reader to a shift in perspective. Hamid portrays Changez’s crafty monologue and cunning as a way to relate underlying themes of mutual suspicion and a subtle subaltern motive that is left unresolved. In the opening paragraph of the novel, Hamid acknowledges a common American stereotype when his protagonist says “Ah I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: I am a lover of

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