In the Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, suggests that the personal and the political cannot easily be separated. His main character, Changez, does embark on a personal journey but it is one that is closely connected to his gradual understanding of his cultural identity as a Pakistani. In the course of this journey, he also discovers that there is considerable space between the way things appear and reality. This is recognized in his personal relationships as well as in his response to his adoptive country, America. As the “reluctant fundamentalist”, Changez is forced to strip back the layers of his personal and professional life to see his situation with more clarity. This new clarity also reveals something fundamental about America that he must come to terms with in the course of the novel.
Hamid explores Changez’s personal journey as a clash between individual and his cultural identity. The conflicting cultural background of being both an American and Pakistani forms Changez’s decisions and changes during the course the novel. Initiating the novel, Changez labels himself a “lover of American” and continuously trying to merge his Pakistani identity into the American society. Changez’s life is involved with a constant change of personas, as he urges to be merged into different values and society. “At Princeton, I conducted myself in public like a young prince, generous and carefree”. Whilst keeping three part-time jobs in Princeton, Changez maintains his persona as a “Pakistani prince”. It is Changez’s belief before the events of 911, that he has become American through his altitudes and actions. But eventually, Changez still has to face the challenge of his true identity as a Pakistani, and question his life and job in America and Underwood & Samson, which has the initial of “U.S” and the symbol of United States of America. And that was through his meeting with Juan Bautista in Chile, questioning his American Identity and compares him to a modern day...
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