The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Representation Of Hybridity Placed In The Third Space

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsen Hamid that was published in 2007. This novel tells about the tragedy of 9/11, the collapse of the twin towers in the United States as a result of the Al-Qaeda attack that grew the Islamic phobia at that time. Changz who is the main character in this novel, he is a Pakistani who went to America to continue his studies then continue his career there. According to Raiz (2018) Mohs Hamid’s novel is a masterpiece in which there are many implied postcolonial theories. Postcolonial is a study that studies, and analyzes the cultural heritage of the colonial. As we already know that Pakistan is an American colony. Pakistan gained independence in 1947. The many things that happened post-colonial gave rise to many issues incorporated in postcolonial theory. The reluctant fundamentalist is a literary work that has many postcolonial issues such as binary, hybridity, mimicry and ambivalance. Theory is a theory put forward by homi bhabha. The situation of the main character in this novel which places itself in two countries namely Pakistan and America refers to the theory of hybridity in postcolonial.

Hybridity as we know it is a mixture of two types into one unit. This hybridity also occurs in colonized and colonized communities. The invaders who came to the colonized countries always brought their culture so that the mixing of cultures. Hibridity is a mixture not annihilation, because when the colonizers and colonized people still maintain their respective cultures, but do not reject new cultures coming to him. Although in its implementation there must always be a culture that faded over the hybridity. This theory is in line with the theory of mimicry and ambivalance in the post colonial proposed by homi k bhabha (1994). Theory Mimicry is an attempt to imitate another culture while ambivalance is an ambiguity of colonial and colonized society. Furthermore, bhabha argues that all cultural systems and systems are things that are built in a room which he calls ‘the third room’. For him this cultural identity always appears as contradictory and ambivalent so that according to him a cultural purity cannot be maintained. But the existence of a contradictory cultural identity and ambivalence, according to him is a positive thing, because from it we can handle the diversity of cultural ecosystems that support the recognition of hybridity in which differences can operate simultaneously.

it is significant that the productive capacities of this Third space have a colonial or postcolonial provenance. For a willingness to descend into that alien territory… many open the way to conceptualizing and international culture, based not on the exoticism of multiculturalism or the diversity of cultures, but on the inscriptionand articluation of culture’s hybridity.

Holquis (1984) states that this idea has also been implied in the bakhtin idea of ​​carnival, this arose in the Middle Ages when a world without limits formed humor and manifestation against the official and serious tone of the Middle Ages. Hybridity has postcolonial frequency which means cross-cultural exchange. However, the use of this term is widely criticized because it can mean the elimination or annihilation, whereas in hybridity there is no annihilation but it is a mixture of two cultures, because of that the term cross-cultural is no longer synchronous with the actual meaning of hybridity. Hybridity is an assimilation by closing and removing cultural differences, whereas in cross-cultural meaning one culture is eliminated, the term that is more synchronous in the meaning of hybridity is assimilation. Robert Young pointed out that the contribution of the analysis of colonial discourse, which was then drafted the concept of hybridity.

Young emphasized that the study of postcolonial is a discourse that can be seen and studied through other perspectives, not only as a comparison of evidence alone. Young further mentioned Bakhtin as an example of implied hybridity. Bakhtin hybridity determines which viewpoints differ from each other in structural conflict which maintains ‘certain elements, organic energy and openness’. While fanon in the black skin and white skin states that Bhabha theory is an analysis of colonized people who have the desire to be the same at the same time in the invaders. This explains that the influence of colonialism has slowly penetrated the colonized people, the present desire to be the same because of the admiration of the (colonial) authority is the basis for the existence of an imitation without losing the original cultural values ​​it carries or we can call as assimilation culture or hybridity. Then bhabha explains that hybridity is a tactic and strategy which can then be accepted as a tool for understanding cultural change through strategic concentration or temporary stabilization of cultural categories.

Another example of hybridity is set forth in a literary work. Many literary works that discuss postcolonial theory such as poetry, processes, and films. One of the writers who poured postcolonial studies into his work is Mohsen Hamid in his novel The Reluctant Funamentalist. According to Riaz et.al (2018) the novel by Mohsin Hamid is a novel that implies a lot of postcolonial discourse. Some postcolonial theories that he found in this novel are mimicry, binary, and diaspora. In his research entitled Postcolonial Perspective of Mohsin Hamid’s Novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, he gave a conclusion that

The author of the novel has depicted different post-colonial aspects. He has shown different stances, at one position he is abrogating American culture while at the same time he is appropriating American culture. Similarly, binary division has been shown with reference to Orient and Occident. Further, identity crises, diaspora are more important. These aspects of postcolonialism are dominant in the novel.

It means that Raiz (2018) find out some postcolonial theory that content in the novel. He assume that the main post colonial theory in this novel is diasphora and mimicry. While analysis was have been done by uswah muzzaki (2019) in her thesis enititled America Vs Un-America As Seen In The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012). She is analysis the film that was adopted from novel with postcolonial theory that is binary. In her research, she found some binary opposition, they are: ambition, neglect, acceptance, rejection, provoked, ignored and concial, then reveal. The last analysis of this novel is also have been done by samikshya pattnaik. The analysisi is focus in other as theory of postcolonial. The result of this analysis is the novels the reactions of the protagonists towards the 9/11 attacks are triggered by their experiences of being the ‘other’. Their trauma, the suffering and the turmoil made them justify their own position of being ‘other’. In terms of Gayatri Chakaravarti Spivak ‘can the subaltern speak?’ is a valid question to put here.

The analysis with method of comparative novel, she is asume that the main character in both nove is explain that he is proud to be otherness. Character changz that adapts to American culture has made him another person by balancing the various achievements he has in the colonizing country, this shows the identity crisis that occurred in the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

In writing this essay, the writer analyzes the novel with hybridity theory. In this novel there are two distinct cultural mixes between west and east. Changs as a representation of the hybridity that occurs in this novel is a major analysis conducted. Changz is a successful overseas. America as a country that has colonized its people has a very large share of its success. He became trusted by Underwood & Sumpson because of his intelligence. After the 9/11 tragedy that has restored his awareness of his true identity as a pakistani. Changz tried to return to his true self, but unconsciously he had been influenced by his overseas culture and could not just let it go. The hybridity contained in this novel can be proven by the narrative contained in the novel.

1. The first hybridity is described by mixing languages ​​which describe changz as multiple identities.

I am a lover of America. I noticed that you were looking for something; more than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission, and since I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, I thought I might offer you my services. 

From the quote above we can see that Changz is an American who can also speak English. This shows the existence of colonial influence in the use of language. However this influence does not eliminate the native language and culture of Pakistan. Changz can still speak Pakistani and not lose his identity. His fluency in English is a concrete need to support his work in America. when he returned from America he did not lose his language skills. This is a hybridity that occurs in language. Therefore Cangz said that he is a native speaker of both languages. The use of the word native speaker refers to native speakers of a language, indirectly he said that he was an American and a Pakistani. The use of the sentence I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, in the narrative indicates two distinct and mixed identities. As has been said by Homi K Bhabha that hybridity shows an ambiguity of identity which then brings a person into in-between (Rutherford, 1190: 211). So in this video changz is a representation of hybridity which also gives birth to ambiguity. We cannot claim Changz as a true Pakistani because based on the narrative he asserts that he is also a native American speaker. Then the position of changz is a representation of the hybridity of being ambiguity, its position is shown as in-between.

2. Apart from Ambiguity, born of the hybridity or mixing of two languages, this novel also represents Ambiguity born to the hybridity of two habits and cultures. So in the second hybridity, this novel represents by dressing two different women in somewhere that is then drawn and concluded in a wider viewing point.

YOU SEE those girls, walking there, in jeans speckled with paint? Yes, they are attractive. And how different they look from the women of that family sitting at the table beside ours, in their traditional dress. The National College of Arts is not far — it is, as a matter of fact, only around the corner — and its students often come here for a cup of tea, just as we are doing now. I see one in particular has caught your eye; she is indeed a beauty. Tell me, sir, have you left behind a lov — male or female, I do not presume to know your preference, although the intensity of your gaze suggests the latter — in your homeland? 

The woman described in the naris uses two different types of clothing. Women who wearing a tight clothing complete with his jeans representing himself as a pakistany who dressed in the cooperation, while the woman who took a traditional outfit representing a genuine woman from Pakistan in no cultural mixture in it. Researching in pakistani womandressed as westerners, we can see how western culture has influenced the people of Pakistan in terms of culture, especially clothing. Although these differences represent the existence of binary opposition, but when viewed in terms of culture at large we can see a hybridity. The western-dressed Pakistani woman still has the same custom as the woman who wears traditional clothes to go to the same caffe. Then the woman in western clothes did not remove her tracks as a Pakistani woman. This illustrates a balance between women in traditional and western dress. As explained that hybridity is a strategy and tool for accepting cultural change through strategic concentration or temporary stability of the culture category.

3. The third hybridity is represented by the behavior of changz characters who consume two behaviors from two different cultures, namely between Pakistan and America.

I’ve ever met someone our age as polite as you… not boring polite. Respectful polite. You give someone their space. I really like that. it’s unusual.

The first narration depicts the character changz who brought behavior based on Pakistani culture to America to respect and respect women, while in the next narration it describes changz that accepted the habitual of an american.

We took our seats for the meal, he lifted a bottle of red wine and said to me, “You drink?” “He’s twenty-two,” Erica’s mother said on my behalf, in atone that suggested, So of course he drinks. “I had a Pakistani working for me once,” Erica’s father said. “Never drank.” “I do, sir,” I assured him. “Thank you.”

In the narration explains Changz who recognizes that he is also an alcohol drinking to follow American culture as an award for a guest. By diet Kurta dress that shows his identity as a Pakistan and inhabiting alcohol to show that he follows the American culture is a hybridity or mixing of two cultures. Furthermore, the inhabitant of manners to establish its characteristic as a good Pakistanan contradicts the American culture that drinks alcohol. As we know that Pakistan is an Islamic state that prohibits alcoholic drinks, but still done by Changz to show his identity as an American.

In conclusion, the hibridity in this novel represent in the dress, language, and habitual. The hybridity shown made an ambivalance or ambiguity that occurred in this novel. Changz occupies in-Between or the Third Space that is over Expand by Homi K Bhabha, this Hibridity also then provides a tolerance or acceptance of cultural change from Pakistan and America. Overall Changz can not be called as a true Pakistan or purely, because in him has been mixed by American culture that can not be separated in him. Then he can not be defined as true Americans. Although he has been good at English like a native speaker and follows American culture, but his identity as a Pakistan can not also be abolished, then he represents both simultaneously by adheres to American culture and Pakistan at once. Thus can prove the hybridity that occurred in this novel puts Changz in the position of The Third Space or In-Between.

Works cited

  • Aschort, B., et.al (1998) key concepts in postcolonial studies. london: routledge
  • Barker, C hris (2005) Cultural Studies, Theory And Practice (translate). Yogyakarta: kreasi wacana
  • Bhabha, H.K (1990) The Location of Culture, London: Routledge
  • Darmawan, darwin (2014) Identitas Hybrid Orang Cina. Yogyakarta: gading publishing
  • Hamid, mohsin (2007) The Reluctant Fundamentalist. New York: Orlando
  • Muzzaki, uswah (2019) america vs un-america in the reluctant fundamentalist (2012), uin sunan kalijaga
  • Pattnaik,Samikshya (2019) Exploring the “Other” in Mohsin Hamid’s TheReluctant Fundamentalist and Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows.Journal of Rajasthan Asociation For Studies In English 15: 12-18
  • Raiz, wajid, et.al (2018) Postcolonial Perspective of Mohsin Hamid’ S Novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • Rutherford (1990) community, culture, difference. London: lawrence and wishart
  • Young, R.J.C (1995) Colonial Desire: hybridity in theory, culture and race, london: routledge


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