The Reluctant Fundamentalist- Is Changez Reluctant?

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Is Changez ‘reluctant’ as the title suggests?

In Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the Pakistani protagonist, Changez, is not reluctant like the title suggests. Hamid illustrates through Changez’ persistence in being unhesitant how it, consequently, negatively impacts the people around him. In his determination to be with Erica Changez forces her to think of him as her deceased boyfriend, Chris, emphasizing his eagerness to be with her. Hamid uses first person monologue, and shifts from present to past portraying how willing Changez is in telling his life in America throughout 2001 to the American, but also the readers.

In the very first pages of The Reluctant Fundamentalist Changez doesn’t hesitate in telling a complete stranger, the American, about his life in America surrounding 911. For example, as Changez introduces himself to the American, he is asked a question about his thoughts of ‘Princeton’, however instead of answering simply, his reply “requires a story”. The American doesn’t have the opportunity to reject the offer of a story, or if he did, Changez’ narration does not say otherwise and both the reader and the American are somewhat forced to continue listening. Through the use of an extended monologue the readers are positioned as the American, contributing in Changez’ persistence in telling his side of the story and how unhesitant he is in doing so. Hence demonstrating his determination.

Towards the middle of the novel, Changez’ love for Erica, a fellow “Princetonian”, becomes so strong that he is willing to take on the persona of her deceased boyfriend, Chris. After already attempting to have intercourse with Erica and failing, Changez tells Erica to “pretend” that he is Chris. “Her body denied [Changez’] no longer” and they proceed to have intercourse. As a result this establishes Changez’ un-reluctant nature. Although he felt like he “had diminished himself” “by taking on the persona of another”, he still felt “satiated” with...
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