Reluctant Fundamentalist

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Students Name
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Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsin Hamid. In his Novel, Hamid
present a scenario in which alienated Pakistani tells his story to an American stranger in the
Mesmerizing book. The author uses the first-person narrator in the story. Through this, the
narrator-Changez establishes a troubling hold on the readers and further confides his life
story to an American stranger in a Lahore café.
The novel basically talks about fundamentalism. Fundamentalism refers to the
tendency to reduce a religion into its fundamental tenets, based on strict interpretation of core
texts. A fundamentalist is therefore a person who believes in strict as well as literal
interpretation of the scripture a religion. Changez, the protagonist in the novel displays these
traits hence he becomes the fundamentalist. His strict belief in religion is responsible for his
The Novel is indeed a critique of Pakistan’s intellectual denial. It describes the denial
through the use of various characters created in a way that befits the intellectuals who hide in
the rubrics of religion. This is indeed the strength of the novel hence its title. Through the
book, the author gets an avenue to write, share and talk about problems facing his country of
birth and probably offer solutions to such problems with a view to realizing the long-desired
development and sense of belonging. His role as a novelist is to capture the reality without
leaving any stone unturned. He does this through various characters designed authentic
voices to proclaim the same. In this, he succeeds with the sureness that is quite mesmerising.
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist in the Novel is Changez. A highly educated person
who believes in strict interpretation of religion. It is his interpretation that makes him say the
Pakistani should receive international powers. the author draws him as the character who is
reluctant to accept specific issues in his society. Through him, as a representation of educated
and political class in Pakistan, Mohsin has successfully given an insight into the ever-
increasing social and political crisis in Pakistan. The political class has refused to challenge
the reluctant fundamentalist. They instead prefer taking refuge in other countries to working
for peace in their own country. Changez is the epitome of those not ready to bring peace into
their own country but instead take refuge in crowd-pleasing anti-Americanism. He is indeed
a fundamentalist who displays no hint of reluctance at all.
A number of features and character Changes displays give him a perfect role of the
Reluctant Fundamentalist. He is raised as a member of Lahore’s wealthy family, Changez has
complicated and sophisticated manners of the wealthy. These traits customarily set him apart,
thus, alienated him from most of his new wealthy friends as well as classmates. These
features prove to be critical in Change life as they see him succeed high-stake world of
He is also loving and caring. Changez falls in love and courts his classmate Erica. The
two met and fell in love while on vacation in Greece. However, after the terrorist attack, he
realizes that he does not belong to the same world as Erica. His being naïve leads him into
falling in love without scrutinizing the underlying factors behind their love. He, therefore,
loses his job when he gets fired while on a trip to Chile.
He is also given the trait of being an educationist and university lecturer. As a
lecturer, he is so popular with his students especially those in active politics. One of his
students gets arrested in connection with an attempted assassination of an American
diplomat. In Changez view, that Particular Pakistan should obtain international powers-This
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he says because of his strict interpretation of religion hence a fundamentalist. He is then
named "Anti-American" is consequently gets concerned with his own life.
The author draws Changez as a highly educated character who works as a financial
analyst in a prestigious firm in New York. His life, however, changes after a disastrous love
affair and an attack on him. He consequently comes back to Pakistan entirely alienated from
his people, their culture and way of life. This trait gives a stereotypical to Changez and makes
other characters as well as readers who view educated folks as pretenders who abandon their
traditional ways of life, forget their homes when life is well with them and only to come back
when all hell breaks loose. This is a stereotypical identity given to Changez on the grounds of
his educational qualification and work.
Other characters also portray different traits that develop stereotypical identities.
Erica, who is represented as Changez love interest has been thin, wealthy and has a social
magnetism of a celebrity (Hamid 56). Her body size and structure is stereotypically regarded
as that of a celebrity. This is just a notion, hence a stereotypical way of concerning thin
people with athletic bodies as celebrities. In this regard, she is presented as being wealthy.
Erica’s appearance misleads Changez into concluding that she is queenly a factor which
disapproves via her characters and behaviour towards Changez later in the novel.
With all these appearances and physical outlook, Erica is detached from the reality
and keeps sinking deeply into depression. Frustrations mount on her as her quest to become a
novelist is thwarted by her grief over her first love Chris. Erica's love for Chris remains a
stumbling block to the development as well as the success of her love life with Changez both
emotionally and physically. She makes love to Changez only ones when the latter pretends to
be Chris. The pain agony of losing Chris finally takes her to a mental hospital. Erica’s
condition, behaviour and state of mind is an epitome of stereotypical identifies given to
characters which do not have any coherence with their normal life.
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In conclusion, many issues have been addressed with a major motive of identifying
Changez as a “reluctant fundamentalist” and his features, which include loving, caring,
highly educated and of excellent work qualifications which brings about his stereotypical
identity. Despite sharing other specific characteristics such as thinness and “celebrity-like”
individuals, the major characters are also different in many ways.
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Work Cited
Hamid, Mohsin. Reluctant Fundamentalist, (PB). Penguin Books India, 2007.
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