Despite the use of first-person narration in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Changez remains a stranger to us in the novel. Is this statement true?

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

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With this idea, the question I am left with is whether or not we can truly and absolutely know anybody.  Changez does reveal a great deal to us. We are able to understand him from an emotional, social, political, and sometimes, even sexual point of view.  He is understood by the fact that he is our guide.  The first person narration leaves us little choice than to understand reality through his eyes.  We understand him to a great extent.  Yet, we do not fully understand every last detail about him.  Hamid is working on the level of creating a complex and intricate character, one that is not monolithic in any way.  Rather, he is multidimensional.  With such a notion, there are some aspects to him that remain beyond our grasp.  The ending helps to reveal part of this and to what extent Changez has taken up the fundamentalist cause is another element to this.  While these areas prevent us from knowing him in a totalizing and absolute manner, I don't think that he remains a stranger to us.  He is not someone with whom we have no understanding.  Hamid gives us a character that we understand a bit on different levels, helping to create a composite that is unique and fundamentally challenging. Yet, he does not give us one that we are to "get" in a complete manner.  We know much about him, but not everything.  I think that this does not make him a stranger to us.  Rather, it makes him human. 


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