In chapter 8 of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, discuss how Underwood Samson is different than the concept of nostalgia that is present in Changez's narration.

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

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Changez renders a portrait in chapters 7 and 8 that strike at the essence of what nostalgia represents.  On one hand, one has to consider how Changez defines nostalgia in terms of his association with Erica.  When he suggests that Erica was slipping into a condition of nostalgia that would end up defining her character as "a powerful nostalgia, one from which only she could choose whether or not to return," it becomes clear that this vision of nostalgia is one in which past identity guides and controls the notion of self in the future.  Erica's nostalgia with who she was when she was with Chris is triggered by the events of September 11.  In much the same way, Changez defines America as suffering from the same condition, one in which there is a plunging into seeing itself as a type of vengeful force resurrected from its past identity in World War II and superimposing that image into its modern setting with its war in Afghanistan.  Nostalgia is seen as a force that catapults people into the past to don a mask which helps them endure the present and construct the future.

The schism between this conception that surrounds Changez in his life is absent in how he sees his workplace.  Underwood Samson is immune to this nostalgia because it is driven by the present.  Changez is able to succeed because his work at Underwood Samson is driven by the quantifiable reality of now, of the present tense.  When Jim argues that Underwood Samson represents power because "Power comes from becoming change," it represents how Changez's work is in a vacuum from the reality that surrounds him. His success at Underwood Samson is because Changez is able to  “[go] about the task of shaping the future with little regard for
the past.”  This does not necessarily provide a sense of comfort for Changez, but rather brings out how there is a fundamental disparity between what happens in America and the foreign policy it pursues.


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