Is Changez's understanding of America a clear picture or is it distorted?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When he first came to this country, Changez's understanding of America was distorted. He says that when he came to America in order to go to school at Princeton, he thought, "This is a dream come true." Further, he says,

Princeton inspired in me the feeling that my life was a film in which I was the star and everything was possible.

He idealized the university, the professors, and even his peers, thinking of them as "philosopher-kings in the making." In other words, he saw America as glamorous and glittering, like a Hollywood movie. He felt himself to be the starring player of his life in this beautiful place, and believed that he could accomplish anything and everything here. He only saw the positive possibilities, all the good things that could happen, unable even to acknowledge that negative possibilities existed, and this is certainly a distorted view of America.

However, as he became subject to more and more racism, his view began to change. The way Erica's father talks to him, for example, "struck a negative chord" with him due to the older man's tone, and Changez must force himself to respond politely. In the Philippines, he experiences "an undisguised hostility in his expression" from a local, as Changez sits in a limo with his white American colleagues; he begins to feel as though he "was play-acting when in reality I ought to be making my way home, like the people on the street outside." He begins to realize how much America is distancing him from himself, from his own culture. By the time 9/11 happened, Changez felt "remarkably pleased" when the Twin Towers fell because he "was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees." By this time, Changez had developed a much clearer view of America—with both its positives and its negatives—and this view continues to develop and grow more nuanced as time passes and he has more eye-opening experiences.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial