In the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid has used the first person narrative to let Changez tells the reader a story. We are shown the way that first person narrative only tells one side of the story, in this case, it is only Changez telling the story and speaking for the American and this creates the reader with no other perspectives of the events. Although it is an unreliable way to process information, the reader is able to understand events that have occurred in Changez life. First person narrative allows Changez to voice his outlook of events in the novel, we can understand in depth the reason behind Changez attitude towards certain situations. Hamid creates the novel with the reader living as if they are Changez, causing the reader to feel sympathy. For these reasons it is clear that Changez is not remained as a stranger to us in the novel and we do find a lot out about him and his personal life.
Hamid has chosen to write the novel using first person narrative and in doing this there are a number of effects, the first of that is the fact that we, as the reader, can only receive one side of the story. Changez is in a conversation with an American for the whole book, saying things such as, “You find me crass for revealing such intimacies to you, a stranger?” and “you prefer that seat, with your back so close to the wall” this illustrates the way that Changez in the novel simply interprets what the American says to him and his actions he takes throughout the novel. Of course the way that this is done, using the first person narrative, only shows us Changez perspective and doesn’t show how other characters feel and what they really think, we only get the events happening from the way Changez portrays it to us, as the reader. s
Although there is the effect of only getting one side of the story, in a way there may be a good outcome because we are then able to find out the way that Changez is feeling and be able to understand him with a deeper insight into Changez as a character. He is able to really show us his mental state and overall feelings as he is telling the story of the events that are happening in his life. When in Chile Juan-Bautista says “does it trouble you…to make your living by disrupting the lives of others?” this is when Changez realises that he is in fact “a modern-day janissary”. He had thoughts about Pakistan for a long time after 9/11, and after talking with Juan-Bautista he realises that he was playing the role of a janissary. “Of course I was struggling! Of course I felt torn!” Changez is able to explain to us what he really feels in this case, when he was thinking about his family and country being bombed.
With the use of first person narrative Hamid is able to let Changez explain himself in situations. After seeing the 9/11 attacks Changez initial reaction was described as “then I smiled”. If this was all that wad described you may then think of Changez as a evil character, but because the use of first person narrative lets Changez explain himself we can hear what he had to say. When he describes his reaction to this event he explains saying “my thoughts were not with the victims of the attack…I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees”. With this explanation we can understand that Changez was not smiling because of all the people now in pain and suffering, but because of the symbolism that this portrayed in this situation. If this novel didn’t use first person narrative we would not understand the reason behind Changez smiling. We are able to appreciate Changez better, and identify him better.
Again using first person narrative, we are able to feel more attached to Changez because he is expressing towards the reader, how he is treated in different life events. After the 9/11 happened, when Changez travelled through the airport he was then stripped searched because of his nationality “I flew to New York uncomfortable in my own face…I felt guilty” even though Changez had done nothing, the way he was treated in this incident was horrible for him. Changez then grew a beard, in which the Americans didn’t approve of. When they confronted him about this we realise Changez feels as if “I was deeply angry”, and because of the beard “I was subjected to verbal abuse by complete strangers”. This therefore makes us feel some type of sympathy towards Changez, because in fact he has done nothing wrong to be treated this way is awful.
Hamid has used first person narrative to compose The Reluctant Fundamentalist, in doing this some may believe that his is known as a stranger to us. This may have come from the circumstance in which Changez is only able to tell us his perspective. This may result in an unreliable story being told in which Changez will become known to us as a stranger. But because the use of first person narrative has been used we are able to have a greater insight to what is going on in his personal life, and the things he may be worried or stressed about in his life and the reasons he has behind that. As the reader we are also able to interpret things from his point of view and therefore appreciate Changez reasons behind what is being said. In this we are able to sympathise for Changez, because we have a superior understanding of his true feelings, even though these may not be portrayed by some of his actions. Overall at the end of the novel it is fair to say that we know Changez and that he is not a stranger to us.