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The title of The Reluctant Fundamentalist is ironic, yet there is nothing reluctant...

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dotapurgeeee | eNoter

Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM via web

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The title of The Reluctant Fundamentalist is ironic, yet there is nothing reluctant about Changez's final fundamentalism. Discuss.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:06 AM (Answer #1)

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I certainly think that the statement is valid, but I would merely question the idea of Changez's "final fundamentalism."  Hamid constructs a work where little is absolute and clear.  He wishes to create a view of fundamentalism and terrorism that goes beyond the narrative that has been given to the public by the media and the respective bastions of power that benefit from a narrow view of the issue.  In this, I would suggest that Changez's "final fundamentalism" is far from final.  There is a certain reluctance to his fundamentalism that I think helps to make the narrative more compelling.  We know that Changez has struck a pro- Pakistan point of view in terms of its reliance on foreign aid.  We also know that Changez supports his students who might be involved in dubious activities.  Yet, there is little else to really suggest to us that he has become the stereotypical "fundamentalist."  The "reluctance" might have to lie in how we view him.  Perhaps, the "reluctant fundamentalist" is a call to better evaluate what is constituted as "fundamentalism" and "terrorism."  The reluctance might also be evident in what Changez really is.  The ending does not give us anything clear or concrete to suggest that Changez has achieved a style of "final fundamentalism."  Rather, there is ambiguity, questioning, and a sense of doubt.  This becomes Changez's "final fundamentalism," one that leaves us having to assess and critically dissect what we understand as fundamentalism, and perhaps making us a bit more "reluctant" to embrace the labels that have become so much a part of our post- 9/11 world.  I think that this is where the statement needs great clarity and begs for wider discussion.

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