The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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How does Hamid employ symbolism throughout the novel?

Is his use of symbolism effective?

What is lost and gained through the use of symbolism?

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel in which an American immigrant Changez is living a dream with a great job, money, and the “regal” Erica by his side. However after the 9/11 attacks Changez’s perception on America shifted, he was forced to question where his allegence lies and this developed into contempt for America.

If you read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and fail to dig below to the surface of the text then the novel will hold an entirely different meaning to you. Hamid used heavy sybolism to convey meanings and themes that are better not said outright, and overall altered the impression the novel leaft. While reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist it became apperant that Changez’s love interest Erica symbolized America. Besides the obvious that Erica is the last five letters of America, there were multiple parallels in the story Hamid built for Erica and the way he portrayed America. When Changez first met Erica he says, “She had a presence …a naturalist would likely have compared her to a lioness: strong, sleek, and invariably surrounded by her pride”(22). Changez also comments of the pride America shows with, “stickers of flags adorned windshields and windows; large flags fluttered from buildings. They all seemed to proclaim: We are America…the mightiest civilization the world has ever known.”(79). Akin to America after 9/11, Erica seemed to be, “utterly detached, lost in a world of her own… she was struggling against a current that pulled her within herself”(86). Similarly after 9/11 Changez felt that America, “retreated into myths of your own difference, assumptions of your own superiority”(168). The grief that Erica felt over the loss of Chris was representative of the grief America felt after 9/11 and how that prevented both Erica and America from moving on and accepting Changez....
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