Changez states: “I was never an American: I was immediately a New Yorker.” How is Changez’s sense of identity altered over the course of the novel? In Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, the central character, Changez, experiences many identity alterations throughout the novel by the use of dramatic and allegorical events to present how Changez’s identity changes. There are many happenings that are conflicting upon Changez’ identity, and confuse who he wants to be. America’s stereotyping and values were the major factor when Changez attended Princeton, where he stated that he is “something special”, which subsequently catalyzed his attempts to adapt his identity to the lifestyle of a typical young ‘New Yorker’. However, Changez’s career, love life, culture and heritage were also involved in his identity alteration.
Is Changez ‘reluctant’ as the title suggests? Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel , “The reluctant fundamentalist” recounts a Pakistani migrant’s (to America) encounters and battle with the American dream. Changez, the protagonist portrays himself as enthusiastic and impressionable in the early stages of the novel, willing to embrace his new life however through progression he begins to become reluctant, in aspects of his life as the title suggest. Whether it be his hesitation towards actively perusing his ideal girl, held back by fear, or the development in his career, inhibiting him from being able to focus solely on the fundamentals. These various experiences force Changez to battle with his identity, his previously solid perception of himself is uplifted when he forcibly tries to live the American dream and is rejected.
Greece is where Changez meets Erica and where he starts to change his morals. Changez’s trip to Manila he is able to see how “foreign” he is appearing to be, he can see similarities between Manila and his home country, but he is afraid to admit that he is from a poorer country. The Pak-Punjab Deli is a minor setting within New York; it is a backdrop that highlights Changez’s changing identity. The deli is one aspect of New York that makes Changez feel at home. He is grateful to have a taste of home nearby.
The novel implies that even though Changez is later ambivalent about his connection with America, he loves certain aspects of America. On Changez’s return to Pakistan for good, despite his painful experiences with Erica, the Corporate culture and the Post 9/11 hostility, he still ‘tends to become sentimental when [he thinks] of [America]. It still occupies a place of great fondness in [his] heart’. While talking to the American he recalls that ‘surely, by night, New York is one of the greatest sights in the world’. Throughout the novel, Changez reminisces on certain aspects of America, such as ‘American popcorn shrimp’ and significant landmarks such as the ‘expressive beauty of the Empire State Building.’ Despite the traumatic and confronting experiences Changez faces in his ‘4 and a half’ year stay in New York, he still longs for certain parts of the American culture.
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist intertwines several stories in order for the reader to make sense of the post 9/11 world” Pakistani Author, Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a potent example of post 9/11 literature. The story follows an encounter between two apparent strangers in a Lahore Café: one, a silent and nameless American, the other a talkative and educated Pakistani, Changez, who imposes an array of stories of his experience in America upon “The American”. Recounting his experiences, Changez, and indeed Hamid, reveal much about the patriotic and emotional climate in the USA after the September 11 attacks. Hamid’s multiple narratives help the reader to make sense of the post 9/11 world as the framed narrative can be read as an allegory, with characters symbolic of different facets of America and its relationship with the international community. The action unfolding in the café helps the reader to evaluate the complex cultural tensions and fears of the post 9/11 world.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is written with the one perspective of one man, Changez. Changez, a Pakistani man, attempts to chase his “own personal American dream.” Over food and exotic drinks in a café in Lahore, Changez illustrates in a one-sided conservation, to an American traveller his encounters, all of which he experienced while “spending four and a half years” in America. The author portrays the fact that in America, one of the sole purposes of their existence is money, The novel demonstrates how the attacks on the World Trade Centre, and the subsequent repercussions that followed, altered his view of the elusive “American Dream.” Leading to his reluctance to follow the advice of his colleague “to focus on the fundamentals” is replaced by a desire to concentrate on fundamentals of a different type. The use of many stereotypical judgements placed on certain characters in the book is present through the wording, used to depict not only their appearance but also how they are accepted in society. September 11th acts as a means to fuel the labelling placed on those who were not “American citizens.” In joining the line for “foreigners” at immigration, no longer does Changez feel like a “New Yorker.” From the very beginning of the novel, there is immediately the implied sense that there has perhaps been a previous encounter between Changez and the American, not directly however possibly in the sense of their countries.
Oliver Swart On the Road by Jack Kerouac Sal: Sal is an aspiring writer who originally lives in New Jersey. He meets Dean and is immediately influenced by him. Sal immediately begins traveling the country in search of adventure. He is charismatic, but often fails at picking up girls because he can be awkward. He is based on Jack Kerouac in real life.
This leads to Changez's struggle in securing a position within the nation of America. At first, operations within American seemed to be going well as if Changez "was immediately a New Yorker." Things soon changed after the mass patriotism that was brought out among American citizens soon after the attacks. It was as if Changez was now a liability to the safety of
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