The Reluctant Fundamentalist's American Dream Essay

1484 words - 6 pages

“Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change” (Hamid 96). In the book The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid portrays a young international student from Pakistan named Changez. Changez comes to the United States to fulfill the American dream, but America is about to let Changez down. He starts with every immigrant’s interpretation of the American dream: get rich and be able to provide for their family. Later, he changes his perspective briefly to America being a possible escape from Pakistan, and lastly shifts his perspective of the American dream to the pursuit of love. The American dream fails for Changez: he loses his job, gets deported back to Pakistan, and the woman he loves meets a tragic end.
Changez has many downfalls during his time here in America, but the one that sets the stage for all the rest starts with Erica. Changez and Erica meet while on a college trip to Greece. Though they don’t get much time alone together, there is a sense of chemistry that starts to develop, “I looked at Erica and she looked back at me, I felt we both understood that something had been exchanged between us” (20) Erica had lived in New York City all her life, a quality that Changez found interesting due to the nature of constantly-changing America. Her family was quite wealthy and lived in a penthouse apartment. Erica’s father does what most Americans do and assumes Pakistan is only what he sees on the evening news: “Economy’s falling apart though, no? Corruption, dictatorship, the rich living like princes while everyone else suffers” (55). Erica also finds herself able to confide in Changez quite easily, she tells him of her boyfriend that had passed away the year before. Erica always talks about her ex-boyfriend, Chris, as if he is still alive and she is going to go see him later that day.
The collapse of the relationship between Erica and Changez can be marked by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers. Immediately after the attacks, America was forced to think of the past and of death. For Erica, this brought back memories of the death of Chris. For days she would lock herself away, not eat, and not even sleep. Her body went into an emotional hypochondria. This forced Changez to lose contact with Erica- she wouldn’t call, email, or even write a letter to Changez. She may have viewed contact with Changez as cheating on her boyfriend Chris, whom had died a year prior. Erica was able to see that she needed help from a professional and checked herself into a mental institution until she felt better. Changez goes to visit Erica at the institution before he leaves to Chile for work. At this time, Erica appears to be good as new, her body is still weakened but her personality has seemed to return. When Changez returns back to the US he learns that Erica is missing. She was seen saying goodbye to the nurses and other patients and then disappeared into the night. Her clothes were found folded up on the...

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