The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Changes in Changez

Topics: Pakistan, Personality psychology, Nation Pages: 6 (2491 words) Published: March 2, 2014
The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing or person is definitively recognizable or known is their identity. A person’s behavior, his/her background, the inevitable bits and pieces of his/her nature and history sown together make him/her who he/she are. Changez is the protagonist of the Novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid. His character is complex and diverse from the rest. It is volatile and his perspective of his identity is irresolute. By this I mean that his understanding of who he is constantly being altered through the course of the novel, and I will discuss this in the following paragraphs. Changez’s identity refers to who he is; every aspect of his personality adds up to his identity. Changez belongs to an upper-class family from Lahore, Pakistan. He lives in a house with his parents, his sister & his brother. This family is not poor, but is not wealthy compared to the society it mixes with. Changez’s family is relatively liberal as everybody, including the women, work, in order to maintain the high living standards that they are used to. Changez has been born and brought up in Lahore and has always been a promising and scholarly student. The novel states that he has gone through his entire school life without getting a single B grade. Post his education at school; he received a scholarship to Princeton. This reflects two aspects of Changez’s life; first, his above average intellect that made him eligible for such a pristine offer, and second, his dire need for the financial aid in order to be able to be part of such a prestigious institution. Like for everybody, Changez’s history is inevitably a part of his identity. It may not be very important, but his financial condition does raise barriers in his life and can be categorized as important enough to be a part of his identity as this causes constraints. Other than these aspects of his life, an important part of Changez’s identity is his mindset. Before getting to Changez’s metamorphosing personality, I would like to state a constant about him: His mannerisms. Through the course of the novel, Changez’s way of speaking is always polite and humble. This may be a contradiction to his proud and confident personality. As I see it, Changez believes that he is a cut above the rest and works tirelessly to prove it and live up to his own expectations. However, while he feels superior to his acquaintances, he is never seen being impolite or cocky towards them. As Changez’s journey begins in Princeton, he is always slightly different from his acquaintances. His politeness makes him bit of an outsider and he is never quite part of the people there. Another thing that makes Changez different from the rest is his economic stability. A part of Changez’s identity worth commenting on is not only the need for him to work three jobs whilst being at college, but his efforts to not let his peers at Princeton find out about these jobs. In my view, he wants to keep up with everyone and flourishing on the financial front is one of his life’s goals. I think this is one of Changez’s catalysts that make him work so hard. It is one of the factors that provide him with the drive to flourish. Underwood Samson employs Changez for a job that is almost out of reach. This reflects his diligence and charm. At this point in his life, Changez claims to be a lover of America and his admiration for the country stands strong. As Changez is not as wealthy as he projects himself to be, it is difficult for him to watch as his friends part with money thoughtlessly on their trip to Greece. ‘Lahore-ancient city…democratically urban, similar to Manhattan.’ Changez claims that coming to New York was like coming ‘home’ for him. New York is full Urdu speaking cab drivers and has other similarities to Lahore. Changez feels like he is ‘immediately a New Yorker, never an American.’ In my view, this shows that while he is drawn to New York in a binding way, and while he...
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