The Reluctant Fundamentalist Essay

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Fundamentalism is a strict adherence to a set of ideas or beliefs that are conservative in nature. It is a pejorative term usually associated with religious fanaticism. Usually, this is what comes to mind when there is mention of a fundamentalist. However, in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist starring the protagonist Changez, a Pakistani Princetonian who is a top-ranked employee at a prestigious New York valuation firm, turns out not to be an Islamic fundamentalist, but a reluctant fundamentalist of US Capitalism. Hamid challenges readers to reevaluate their preconceived notions and prejudices of people different from themselves in post 9/11 America by employing the use of motifs, aphorism, and suspense, to create a conflation…show more content…
Hamid, through his choice of names, brilliantly doubles his characters as motifs. All the significant characters have a symbolic identity and thus, he is simultaneously telling two stories, but not in the traditional sense expected of a frame story, for this is not a story within a story, but rather, a story behind a story. The frame takes Changez back to the past, but when he finishes retelling the past, the frame is no more and the reader is back in the present. Therefore, when the past is put in conjunction with the happenings in the cafe, only one story is being told. The second story is conveyed through the interaction of the motifs and requires a little intuition (not that much) on the reader's part to decipher its meaning. In using the motifs to convey a variety of messages, the relationship between Changez and Erica is especially saturated with clues of their secret identities. Erica had only one previous lover, Chris, her childhood sweetheart who died of cancer in late adolescence and whom she is never able to let go. Initially, she was severely depressed but eventually recovered from the ordeal. However, as Erica's intimacy with Changez grows, so does her feeling of nostalgia. The September 11 attacks triggers a relapse in Erica and she becomes more and more obsessed with Chris. She rejects Changez physically and is only able to have sex with him when they pretend
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