"You give off this strong sense of home... it makes you feel solid" - (Erica) Is Changez a solid character?
In Mohsin Hamid’s taut psychological thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist readers are exposed to the gradual degradation of Changez's personal image and relationships. The solidity of Changez can be clearly seen through his stages of moving to America, progressing through university and meeting Erica. This initial mind-set is lost after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001 and is replaced with him losing his self-identity and eventually losing America and Erica. Changez prior to 9/11 is adorned with privilege and is thought of as “something special” that should be encouraged and reinforced to ensure he becomes successful. In the immediate after-math of the Twin Tower bombings Changez’s relationship with both the city of New York and his would be lover Erica become confused. Finally, in a Post 9/11 world Changez’s relationship with America is shaken and his relationship with Erica is unsecure leaving him questioning his self-identity and who he really is. In Hamid’s alluringly structured novel readers view these events in retrospect as they are recounted to an un-named “American”. The structure of the text as a first person dramatic monologue forces readers to confront their own views and values about current world events and also their own beliefs about America’s place in the world and their individual responsibility to engage with a complex global environment. Changez coming from a Pakistani background and with an endless potential is really “something special”, and “Students like [him] were given visas and scholarships, complete financial aid… and invited in the ranks of the meritocracy”. Having being given these opportunities and using them to his advantage Changez knew that “in [his] senior year that [he] was something special… [He] was confident of getting any job [he] wanted. Changez knows that he is “something special”...
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