The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Essay Practice 4 - Identity 2

Gap-fill exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers.
   allegory      Anti-American      beard      bitterness      bullying      confident and smug      confusion      consciously changed      culture      dogma      dramatic monologue      economic      environment      Erica      fluid      fundamentalist approach      heritage      ignorance      impersonate      Lahore      loved      monologue      nations      Pakistani      Pakistanis      perceptions      place      reflective      religion      reluctant      represses      resentment      resonates      respectful      revulsion      self-perception      sexual encounters      shame      shifting      stereotypes      successful      suspicion      sympathetic      tension      unpredictable      unsure      Valparaiso   
Identity is as much about public perception as it is .

In Mohsin Hamid’s novel "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" the reader is confronted with this fact in a bid to understand what it means to be American and Pakistani. The narrator Changez is of who he is, and whilst certain personality traits remain, his sense of identity is changed significantly by the novel’s conclusion. Through the use of a Changez is able to explore how he sees himself as he attempts to clarify his experiences in America. The use of further enhances the story as Hamid also questions the identity of America and Pakistan as and provides a controversial ending to trap the reader in their own .

Hamid depicts Changez’s identity as being and constantly changing. As the novel is a dramatic monologue, Changez provides the American with a detailed account of his identity. Hamid uses this to show identity is as much a conscious decision as it is . At first, Changez is friendly and plays up this element of his personality for both his American guest, by “offering [his] services”, and his companions in Greece, as he could “not prevent myself from carrying her backpack.” Indeed, it is this facet that attracts both Erica and gives the reader some reason to empathize with him. Changez presents himself as a , thoughtful person, someone who Erica comments “feels solid.” Despite this, he is clearly out of his element and confused by the environment he is in, Underwood Samson “had the potential to transform my life… making my concerns about money and status things of the distant past.” This is contrasted with his keen observational sense as well; noting The American sits ”with [his] back so close to the wall.” He has the opportunity to shape the reader’s perception of him and often does this to suit himself. He attempts to stand out in Greece to impress and at Princeton so that he is likely to secure a employment. He his culture in Manila and his delight at seeing “America so visibly brought to her knees”, knowing this to be “unacceptable to [his] colleagues.” His sense of identity is shown to be something he has , though this doesn’t make him feel any less ashamed at his lack of dignity in trying to “act and speak… more like an American.” In this light he is a character as he is clearly at the mercy of his reliance on how others see him and relies strongly on being by others.

Further-to-this, he is brutally honest about his with Erica as he pretends to be Chris in order to have sex with her. This causes the American to look at him “with a degree of ”, a response likely shared by the reader. This frankness shows that his sense of identity has improved since he returned to . That his identity is “so fragile” since he can Chris to his own ends is cause for however, and he attempts to predict others’ perceptions of him throughout his . He claims it is unlikely he did Erica any harm in this since “surely I could not have known what would happen” to her later. He acknowledges to the American that he “lacked a stable core”, perhaps recognizing the he felt at this stage of his life. Hamid uses this scene to show both the selfishness of his ego and the extreme lengths he will go to be one with Erica. Read as an allegory, his and dissatisfaction leads him to conclude that he is uncomfortable with pretending to be American and ultimately the country rejects him in the same manner Erica’s body does. Despite his great endeavor to prove himself worthy of the role of American student, businessman and lover, he admits to the American he tried to ignore the “impending destruction of [his] personal American dream.” He mourns this by explaining that America was “a that would not accept me as a convert.” His sense of identity is greatly influenced by the public’s perception of him and his difference to the average American, so much so that he is admits he “was never an American.”

His further alters his identity; allowing Hamid to emphasize the impact has on one’s sense of self. He is “immediately a New Yorker” as he is comfortable in celebrating his Pakistani , between the deli, Urdu-speaking cab drivers and Erica’s enjoyment of his “exoticness.” In Manila he finds himself sharing their “third-world sensibilities”, and he realizes for the first time how “white” his coworkers are. He symbolizes this by refusing to shave his after being in Pakistan, almost as a way to make up for his shameful actions elsewhere. These eye-opening experiences lead to him see America through foreign eyes - the disgusted look of the cab driver in Manila with him, as does his conversations with Juan Batista in . Batista in particular influences his developing identity as Changez himself admits that he “added considerable momentum to my inflective journey, a journey that continues to this day...” He comes to see America as a “traditional empire” reliant on and “World War II” nostalgia to reassure itself in the world. He is upset that he is “a servant of the American empire at a time when it was invading a country with a kinship to mine.” Allegorically, his at being so reliant on Erica represents Pakistan’s reliance on American military aid. Simultaneous with this resentment is his shame at being made to feel like a Janissary who is being used to promote the greatness of America. He consciously decides that “his days of focusing on the fundamentals [are] done” but Hamid shows this to be true only in an sense.

The Changez that narrates the story is as he taunts the American by suggesting he jumps “as though [he] were a mouse under the watch of a hawk.” Now rooted in a belief that Pakistan must “disengage” with America, he has found a sense of self-confidence that litters his speech with sarcasm and . He shares with the American his own political , that “As a society, you were unwilling to reflect upon the shared pain that united you with those who attacked you.” It is clear that the confidence in his personality has remained, though the Changez that lectures in Pakistan has shifted his fundamental focus to being . Hamid uses this confidence, and the reader’s own of fundamentalists, to create between the speaker and listener. Hamid issues a final warning to the reader via the monologue that “you should not imagine that we Pakistanis are all potential terrorists, just as we should not imagine that you Americans are all undercover assassins.” However, the Changez that walks the American to his hotel is entirely suspicious as a character, having seemingly converted from a “lover of America” to someone who “always resented the manner in which America conducted itself in the world”. The confidence he has once he is surrounded by is own causes the American some concern and Hamid uses this to encourage the reader to consider their own stereotypes of . Despite his apparent reluctance to and declaration that he only uses violence in self-defense, there is sufficient reason for a biased reader to conclude that he would cause the American harm if given the opportunity. Changez’s journey gives them reason to pause though as, despite his less desirable qualities, there is some justification to his .

Despite thinking so highly of himself, it is the public perception and national stereotypes that sees Changez’s sense of identity altered. Whilst he is to embrace the associated with terrorism, he is nevertheless a proponent of Anti-Americanism, a fundamental cause he now believes in deeply and identifies strongly with.