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Changez’s relationship with Erica is similar to his relationship with America. As...

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xinchaoyo | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:27 AM via web

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Changez’s relationship with Erica is similar to his relationship with America. As they both grow and fall apart at the same time. Explain how the allegory is used by Hamid to explain the complexities of the relationship and how it helps the reader understand Changez’s change in behaviour.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:27 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Hamid is deliberate in being able to link America and Erica together in Changez's mind.  For Hamid, the battle for love and justice are one in the same, residing both in the realms of the personal and the political:

I am a strong believer in the intertwined nature of the personal and the political; I think they move together. In the case of Changez, his political situation as a Pakistani immigrant fuels his love for Erica, and his abandonment by Erica fuels his political break with America.

For Hamid, it becomes essential to detail this personal aspect with the political.  I think that Hamid uses the allegory of the personal in the political setting to bring about a new dimension tot he modern discussion of fundamentalism.  Hamid is stressing that there is a reason, a fundamental rationale within the narrative, that people embrace fundamentalism.  It is not to be simply discarded as fanaticism or zealotry or terrorism.  Rather, there are extenuating personal conditions that are complex and intricate.  These have to be understood in order to acknowledge voices in the dialogue and bring about some element of consensus.  In understanding Changez, one sees that his absorption of the personal is akin to his experience in the political.  In the Erica's abandonment, Changez understands how his own place in America is also one that is not readily evident.  It is the personal that helps to grasp the political.  Changez's personal condition is essential to understanding his political dimension.  Consider that the entire work is dedicated to this proposition in that Changez narrates his life story, one that encompasses both political and personal.  Hamid makes it clear that to understand the change in Changez- a play on the concept in his name- one has to understand how the political and personal feed one another:

Which is stronger, politics or love, is like asking which is stronger, exhaling or inhaling. They are two sides of the same thing.

Hamid makes it clear that in his own mind both realities help to construct reality for the modern individual.  Changez becomes a complex figure because we understand him both in personal and political terms, realities in which Erica and America have left him.


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