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Analysis Of Changez’s Identity In The Reluctant Fundamentalist

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

We (as readers) are given a fair glimpse into the narrator’s views of himself, at least as far as anyone is capable of articulating. Changez is an extremely bright individual and he takes pride in this fact as evidenced by his proclamation of how high his grades were at Princeton. It is quite telling that he would choose to include this so early on in their (Changez, and his un-named listeners) conversation. We are also given the knowledge that Changez’s family had, at one time considerable resources, though by now those have depreciated. But this is complicated by Changez’s ability to view Lahore specifically and Pakistan in general through the eyes of his listener. Changez knows that the listener is seeing things through western eyes, and while the listener may not be wealthy by American standards, he certainly views the scene before him disdainfully, which is evidenced by Changez when he explains why he chose that restaurant in particular of all the seemingly identical cafes with rustic tables and simple chairs (Hamid, pgs. 9&10). It is also readily apparent that Changez has deep pride in his country’s history and accomplishments, which comes to the fore when he compares the achievements of his country and those of Europe four millennia prior. There is of course a darker side to Changez’s identity, the flip-side of his pride in the history of his people and one which he is uncomfortable with, and that is his antipathy towards the west and its condescension towards the former elites of history. This resentment of the west in general and America specifically caused Changez to feel some joy in America being attacked during 9/11, and shame for feeling this while people he cared about and respected were in pain. There is another important dimension to Changez, and it is that of a Pakistani Muslim. As a Muslim he does not appear to be particularly pious, and this is illustrated when he tells Erica of his life back in Pakistan and how his family acquired alcoholic beverages, which he explains are illegal for Muslims to purchase.

When thinking of how his identity affected Changez’s experience of America, one must make some key distinctions. His life and his experiences in the United States were strongly affected by the events of September 11th, 2001, and there ought to be divided and analyzed with that fateful day used to demarcate the divide within our studies. The United States of America was one country on September 10th, 2001, and in many regards a very different one on September 12th, 2001. There are of course many similarities, but the differences affected Changez deeply. Before the events of September 11th, that so drastically changed the American experience, a man of Pakistani extraction would find himself to be the victim of America’s longstanding prejudice towards those of darker complexion, as that has in truth lessened very little over the years. There would also be religious intolerance in abundance, much as there is today. What has changed is the level of intensity of this intolerance, the social acceptability of prejudice, and the emboldening of the hateful to act on their intolerance.

We see Changez coming to America, and his experiences appear to be shaped by the nearly boundless possibilities that his future holds. He does reflect that he came to these shores as a foreigner, and that even after his time at Princeton he still felt the same, forever at some remove from Americans. In that same passage, we see Changez finding a place where he feels welcome in that most cosmopolitan of cities New York City, New York. Changez is able to hear his native tongue, eat familiar foods, and finds at least some sense of community.

Bibliography:

  • Hamid, Moshin. The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Harvest, 2008.

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