“I had changed; I was looking about me with the eyes of a foreigner.” How does Changez change throughout the novel?
The Reluctant Fundamentalist uncovers two failed love affairs, one with a person and the other with a nation. Changez - the brilliant boy from Lahore, who was brought up in a utopian background with a loving family yet who faced financial difficulty, manages to get into Princeton with a generous scholarship, and bags one of the most coveted jobs in the country at Underwood Samson with his sheer diligence. He embraces his new job and the huge change from Lahore to New York; the enviable head start in his career is a treasured dream come true, and he doesn’t spare anything in making the most of the opportunity by becoming the most valuable resource for his employer, only to throw it all away as he embarks on a journey, which is as much about self-realization as it is about self-destruction. To begin with, for Changez, the journey from Pakistan to Princeton was “a dream come true.” (Pg. 3) He thrives on the energy of New York, and is proud to be a ‘New Yorker’, although he is critical of America’s nostalgia and sense of importance. His life is full of possibilities not the least of which is the possibility of achieving status, “Underwood Samson had the potential to transform my life as surely as it had transformed him, making my concerns about money and status things of the distant past.” (Pg. 16) On a pleasant day in Lahore, a bearded “lover of America” (pg.1.) reveals to a fearful American stranger his love affair and eventual break-up with the so-called land of opportunities, where he undergoes a transformation from a willing liberal to a reluctant fundamentalist. It is also a tale of unrequited cross-cultural love. Changez finds a good friend in the beautiful, privileged, enigmatic Erica, also a graduate of Princeton, who ends up being at the heart of Changez’s longing for happiness, fulfilment and acceptance on American...
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