THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST Analysis of the chapters and their functions By Mohsin Hamid
The novel and the novelist The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel written by the Pakistani Mohsin Hamid in 2007. In 2012 Mira Nair directed the film with the collaboration of the novelist. The story is about a young Pakistani named Changez and his life, his changings and reflections before and after the attack on the Twin Towers. This novel is dived into 12 chapters and each one of them has a specific function.
Before studying the whole book we have to introduce and to understands some concepts : Fundamentalism: a movement emphasizing the literally interpreted the holy scriptures as fundamental life and teaching the beliefs of this movement adherence to such beliefs Reluctant: somebody not inclined to do something or who doesnt believe in some values. Here is the most important question: why a fundamentalist should be reluctant? Through the studying and the analyze of the book we will find out the reasons of this title. The experience of living in a different culture, working with new values and the stereotypes will bring the young Changez to big crisis of identity and moral changes. Changez will find him self divided between two cultures and divided between two totally different fundamentals: the capitalism of America and the Islamic religion and believes of Pakistan. In this book the novelist Mohsin Hamid underlines many themes that are still present today as: Difference between cultures and multiculturalism Globalization and modernization Difference of economical systems Difference between religions, Christianity and Islam Difference between different social classes How the word can change and influence our personality and our values.
CHAPTER 1 1.The author uses the dramatic monologue for different reasons: 1.In this way he utters the entire book, Changez is the only one who speaks and tells the story from his point of view 2.He interacts with an interlocutor that we cant see or hear but that we know is present. We know what he does or says only thanks to the clues that the speaker gives to us. 3.The speaker reveals us his feelings and his ideas and his character. 2. In this way we see the things through the eyes of a Pakistani and not from the Americans one. We have to create an personal vision of what is happening. 3.The speaker is a good observer and can see through the lines. He immediately deduces that the interlocutor is an American because of his body language. All the cultures are different and unique and Changez has experienced two of them, one the opposite of the other. The main function of the first chapter is to introduce the protagonist, Changez, and his life in New York. The protagonist is sitting in a tea bar in Lahore, Pakistan, with an unknown men. The narrative technique is a dramatic monologue where the protagonist utters the entire book, we see the story from the eyes of a young Pakistani.
4. Changez uses also a formal language. English is not his mother tangue language but he uses word like sir may I . We can deduce that the protagonist is taking some distances from the interlocutor but being polite. 5.America represented for Changez a dream come true, the perfect life. The young Pakistani was very attracted by the American way of living and he describes him as a lover of America.
CHAPTER 2 The main function of the chapter is to introduce Ericas character, the women Changez loved 1.He is attracted because Erica is different form the girls that Changez was used to see. 2.There is a comparison between the Pakistani and American girls. In Pakistan women follow the tradition and are more modest, in America women follow their own rules. 3.Changez analyses the attitude of the Americans in front of the others: they are arrogant and disrespectful. 4.There is a game between the names: Changez reminds us the world change and presents the protagonists position during the story. Erica remind us the world America. Both of them are powerful and they represent a reality that Changez will never reach. Chris, Ericas ex boyfriend, reminds us the world Christianity, Americas religion and the main opponent of Changez and Islam religion.
CHAPTER 3 Changez returns to New York where he starts working for the Underwood Samson company. In this chapter Changez underlines the differences between America and Pakistan. 1.He feels at home because he hears speaking Urdu, he smells and testes typical foodThe novelist introduces us New York as a multicultural and cosmopolitan city, there is a fusion of different cultures and the feeling of being at home 2. But there is also a cultural shock, he gradually tries to adapt himself to the new home and to the values and ideas of America 3. New York is seen as a city of chances and opportunities. 4.Comparison between America and Pakistan: once Pakistan was a great and civilized state, America instead was dominated by barbarians. Now America has great Universities, big cities and Pakistan doesnt have an adequate state development. 5. The American motto is Make as much money as possible and as far as you can
CHAPTER 4 In this chapter Changez tells us his relationship with Erica. 1.After the holydays in Greece the two have kept contact.She helps Changez to get integrated showing him the traditional way of living of a New Yorker. 2. Again we can clearly see that Changez is a good and keen observer. Speaking with Erica he distinguishes a crack, the young girl in fact is still in love with her ex-boyfriend and she is still suffering for him. Changez comprehends that Erica will never take part of his life. 3.An interesting part of this chapter is the meeting of Ericas family, especially with her father. The father lives and sees the world through stereotypes. During the dinner he continues annoying Changez with questions about his country and his culture. Economy is falling apart though,no? Corruption, dictatorship, the rich living like princes while everyone suffersAnd fundamentalism. You guys have got some serious problems with fundamentalism pag.61
CHAPTER 5 In the 5rd chapter Changez analyses and underlines the difference between Philippine, America and Pakistan. The protagonist in fact is sent to Philippine for work and he discovers a different and totally unexpected reality. 1.In the airplane he is well treated, ha has a seat in first class and drink champagne. He feels like part of the company and America but, arrived in Manila, he realizes totally other things. 2.Philippine have taken the American system of living, even the city is full of high skyscrapers and superhighways. It is more modern, technological and even more richer than Pakistan. 3. There is another big comparison with Pakistan, America and Philippine. Changez is a little upset because even Philippine are in a better position than his motherland 4.He starts acting like a real American businessman, he gives orders and wants probably to appear bigger and more powerful. He wants to show that he is very proud of his job and position in the company. For example he maintains the eye contact till the end with a Philippino driver, he wants to be respected and maybe feared. in this way we see the slowly moral and interior changing of the protagonist who starts to believe in some of the Americas values.
5.Jim, Changez boss reveals his ideas: Changez is like a shark. He is determinate and never stops swimming, he is constantly working to reach the top. Both of them have similar backgrounds, different from the others, thats why they are not mart of this world. 6.Then there is the clue moment of the whole chapter: Changez sees the attack on the Twin Towers and smiles. And then I smiled. He is not a psychopathic, he doesnt like the idea of hundred dead people, but he likes the idea that someone has put America on her knees and that has affected Americas pride and arrogance. 7. There starts to be a contrast and interior conflict where the protagonist feels American but Pakistani too. I felt guilty, I tried therefore to be as nonchalant as possible, this naturally led to my becoming stiff and self-conscious 8.The consequences unfortunately are terrible. Americas security started taking several and hostile attitude against immigrants, above all those of Arab origins. In the airport, for example he is several times escorted by armed guards, he is all the time under suspect and seen as a possible terrorist.
CHAPTER 6 In this chapter the novelist underlines all the changes in the protagonists life: 1.After the attack on the Twin Towers in America grows a big and exaggerated sense of nationalism. Everywhere, in bars, restaurants, shops and especially in Grand Zero people raise flags and flowers. We are America the mightiest civilization the world has ever known; you have slighted us; beware our wrath. 2.Changez position also changes. He starts feeling out of place and the people start to have different perceptions about him. The young men is a little confused and starts to think what is actually right and what are all the faults of his acting. 3.Ericas character also changes. The attack on the Twin Towers brings her some memories about Chris and she starts to be depressed again. 4.One day Changez and Erica sleep together but they fail, Erica in fact is still thinking about Chris and she feels like she is cheating him. Her body rejects any type of physical contact. 5.When he speaks to the interlocutor he adds what I would not give for a bucjet of American popcorn shrimp fried