“I look at him – at his fair hair and light eyes…and thought, you are so foreign”. Here is the realization of a bright young man who finds himself at the crossroads of cultures as he strides to find his identity. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid is a novel that has captured the attention of its readers as the book sought straight to best sellers lists in 2007. The books unique conversational style and friendly tone allows its readers to follow Hamid as he constructs the life of the young Changez. In the months following the events of September 11 2001, hostility against “middle eastern” persons grew dramatically. As an author of Pakistani heritage, Hamid uses his character Changez to confront issues of American coulter, its business, elite, political, and its popular culture. All the while viewing these areas through the bright eyes of the young Changez who must confront where he feels called a life in either the troublesome American culture or his native Pakistan where he is needed more than ever. To understand how the bright Princeton graduate becomes a bearded extremist we must explore the message of cultural conflict in the novel, how Hamid uses his characters in the novel to illustrate these conflicts and finally how Hamid incorporates both Changez Pakistani culture and American culture into the novel.
In order to begin to understand Hamid’s the message of the Reluctant Fundamentalist, the author’s thesis must first be explored. As an author of Pakistani heritage, Hamid uses his characters, centrally Changez, to confront issues within American culture, its cutthroat business culture as seen at Underwood, the hubris of elite culture, the political culture of American exceptionalism, and the self-indulging American popular culture. All the while viewing these areas through the bright eyes of the young Changez who must confront where he feels called a life either in the troublesome American culture or in his native Pakistan where he is needed more than ever. While at the same time facing the quickly rising American xyz toward anyone they associated with the events of September 11. While facing these issues Changez is ultimately facing his own identity struggle, should he cash after becoming an American, if ever achievable, or hold strong to his Pakistani identity. Central to how Hamid confronts these issues is the way in which the novel constructs its message.
The method in which Hamid constructs and conveys his message is what sets the Reluctant Fundamentalist apart from the run-of-the-mill post-911 books and unlike traditional books of the social sciences, history or political science, in the Reluctant Fundamentalist Hamid uses Changez to form style. The novel use of a conversational narrative style makes it incredibly unique and unlike any other story, I have ever read. Central to understanding the author's thesis is recognizing his use of this unique conversational style structure used in the novel.
The novel flows smoothly by...