Analyse the scene in The Reluctant Fundamentalist where Changez smiles to the downfall of America during the 9/11 attack.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of aspects of this scene in Chapter 5 that are of particular interest. What is key to realise is that in this scene, Hamid is trying to present to his largely Western audience why it is that 9/11 was greeted with joy in some quarters of the world. The narration of Changez is keen to stress his reasonable nature. He himself identifies that his disclosure that he "smiled" when the second of the twin towers collapsed was "despicable." He tries to reason with his anonymous American audience, saying "please believe me when I tell you that I am no sociopath." Changez has demonstrated by this section of the novel that he is not some Islamic terrorist, indifferent to suffering. He himself shares that his pleasure at 9/11 was something that he met with "a profound sense of perplexity." He however goes on to explain what it is that caused him such mixed pleasure:

I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees.

What Changez finds so pleasurable is not the suffering of individuals and the terrible pain and agony caused by this horrific act of terrorism, but the symbolic significance of how America, who was viewed as a superpower and considered itself to be completely impervious to any attack, was able to be shown its true fragility and vulnerability. Changez goes on to justify his comments by appealing to his audience that he must feel that same feelings when he watches video clips of "American munitions laying waste the structures of your enemies." This scene therefore represents a defence of the way in which 9/11 was greeted with so much joy in various parts of the world.


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