The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Choose a novel in which one of the main characters struggles with identity or the culture of the environment they live in. Describe the character’s situation and go on to discuss how it adds to your understanding of the character and the central concerns of the text. In Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist’, the main character, Changez, struggles to feel comfortable with his true identity throughout the novel. Through Hamid’s use of characterisation and plot structure, he helps us understand the conflict between Changez’s true identity and the identity he creates for himself on his journey from Pakistan to America and back again. Hamid’s use of characterisation of Changez early in the novel helps us to understand his discomfort with his identity. As he explains his motivations for moving to America and attending Princeton to the American stranger, he reveals his family’s dwindling wealth and status in Pakistan: “We continue to be invited to the functions and weddings and parties of the cities elite. And we look with a mixture of disdain and envy upon the rising class of entrepreneurs.” Changez tells the American that his family have always been invited to the elite gatherings in Pakistan, but now due to their dwindling wealth he feels uncomfortable at these events. His ‘disdain and envy’ for the ‘new’ elite imply that he is unsure of his status in the world in which he is part of. It is this feeling of insecurity that fuels his ambition to attend Princeton. Changez’s unhappiness with his identity in Pakistan is what motivates him to create a new public identity for himself while he is attending Princeton: “At Princeton, I conducted myself in public like a young prince, generous and carefree. But I also, as quietly as I could, held down three on-campus jobs - in infrequently visited locations…” The fact that Changez has three jobs in secret imply that he is embarrassed about his identity...
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