The author of the bestseller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, once expressed: – (Mohsin Hamid, 2007). The quote partly intimates an explanation to the title of the book about the transformation of an immigrant’s life in USA after the tragic attack of 9/11. Because it can be hard to interpret the true purpose behind the book, one cannot quite know if the quote addresses to Changez, the main character, or a bigger, more global topic that is addressed in the book. Therefore, I want to answer a question: Is the book more about the life story of Changez, an immigrant in USA, or apprising the aftermath and consequences of 9/11.One can say that the plot is about Changez’s transformation in identity and his point of view towards USA, as well as it tells a story about how the attack transformed USA’s society. In the beginning of the novel, he expresses his love towards the country, Erica and the accountant firm, and how it has grown a part of his identity.
Yet after the attack, he experiences racism and discrimination, all being a primary factor to his change of perspective as shown in this example:(The Reluctant Fundamentalist, page 130) The sudden change of behavior towards Changez from his host country is formed due to the attack. This makes him grow a sort of hatred towards the country as illustrated in the example. One can therefore state that the aftermath society of 9/11, is an important element of Changez’s transformation and his life story.However, if we look at the symbols and characters in the novel, the book leans more towards the bigger picture of the aftermath of 9/11, rather than Changez’s struggles as an immigrant. An example would be Changez’s relationship with Erica in the novel. He finds himself fiercely in love with her, but she is still wounded from the past which, in the end, drives them apart.
In the bigger picture, Erica is the United States, and their hostile relationship is much like the relationship between USA and the Muslim world. The States is wounded from the terrorist attack, and their inability to separate the Muslim world with terrorists, increased hatred towards the countries. At the same time, the atmosphere haunting Underwood Samsons after the attack, discriminating Changez, is much like the post 9/11 society. He starts to notice discreet prejudice at work due to him growing out his beard causing coworkers to become uncomfortable.
The US’s inability to separate terrorist from the whole Muslim world, caused many of their inhabitants to do the same. Creating prejudice and discrimination towards many Muslims after 9/11. For these reasons, it seems like many elements in Changez’s life story, are symbols painting a bigger picture.Furthermore, American patriotism is a major theme in the novel.
This may suggest that the books aim is to illustrate the society of post 9/11, yet if we take a closer look at how the theme in this novel is presented, it rather enhances Changez’s role. ” (Page 79) In the book we are given examples on how the patriotism flourished America in the aftermath of 9/11. However, if the books goal were to illustrate the post society of the attack, it would present the theme by enhancing how Americans expressed their love for their country, and the effects of the growing hostility towards non-Americans, rather than Changez’s views on how America treats him. The book presents patriotism through Changez’s eyes. At first, even though Changez is experiencing negative patriotism, he continues to love his new country. Later, he realises how the country is too idealized by a nostalgic past to reward his love, and therefore leaves the country.
For these reasons being the story focusing on Changez’s view towards patriotism in the United States, it seems like Changez’s role is more vital to the book. The dominant issue that may be controlling the answer to my statement thesis, is what the true message behind the book is. By reviewing the book as a whole, rather than analyzing pieces of it, one can see the hidden message which is the need for reflection, and understanding in a world of conflicts and differences. You need to look at an issue from different points of view to understand the fully picture. This is illustrated through Changez’s journey. When arriving to America he is a man with patriotic love towards the country. It gave him a job, love and education, he was blinded by the American dream. As soon as the disaster hits, it triggers a chain of reflection and realisations for Changez where he discovers that the place he looked up to, has a sort of ethnocentric hostile side to them.
It is as a result Americas unreflective values towards non-Americans, that opens up his mind, giving him a different point of view, and thereby sees the country as a whole. With the new reflection and understanding he received, he becomes aware of his ethical values, and how this “American dream” does not fulfill them. In the end one can see how the true aim of the book is attempting to illustrate the aftermath of 9/11 through a personal perspective, by camouflaging how it was in the aftermath of the attack, as an element in Changez’s life. We see how analyzing bits and pieces of the book highlights both the aftermath society, and how the attack triggers a turning point in Changez’s views. The whole life story of Changez is the author trying to send out a greater message through symbols and similarities where Changez’s story is a wakeup call for the reader to understand the impact of 9/11.
The quote mentioned at the start of the text appeals to the message of the book. Therefore, Changez’s journey is explaining the importance of looking at global issues, such as 9/11, from different perspectives.