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Describe the general statement of the following quote that Erica's father makes in The...

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spongebobs | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 23, 2012 at 10:43 AM via web

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Describe the general statement of the following quote that Erica's father makes in The Reluctant Fundamentalist:  "I had a Pakistani working for me once..."

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

Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:21 AM (Answer #1)

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The interaction between Erica's parents and Changez is fairly significant.  It represents the challenge that Changez feels in America, in general, and trying to fit into a social configuration for which he did not possess much training.  The quote is the father's first words of note to Changez.  When Erica, her parents, and Changez sit down for their rooftop- terraced dinner for four, the father asks Changez if he drinks.  His initial follow up to the question is "I had a Pakistani working for me once" and the long and short of it is that this particular person did not drink.  Erica's father makes the leap of faith that because this one particular individual did not drink, it stands to reason that all of the people of Pakistan do not drink.  In this, Changez is able to understand the social barriers that exist between he and the social setting of traditional America, in general.  The statement is not offensive in a direct sort of manner, but it reflects what Changez will point out later as a form of condescending that he seens intrinsic to the way in which America interacts with other nations and other people, especially those that are not immediately understood.  Consider again that Erica's father would use "Pakistani" in a manner that is slightly cavalier and that he would introduce ethnicity within five minutes of meeting Changez.  The other element of this condescending that Changez brings out in his narration is the idea that the judgment made from working with one person from a particular region could be applied to all of the people in that region.  There is nothing in the text to reflect that Erica's father is an outward and direct person who is racist or discriminatory.  Yet, it is reflection of the social challenges that Changez feels and the idea that as an outsider, there are elements he has to address with which few others outside of his condition would have to confront.

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