In Chapter 5, Changez’s reaction to the September 11 event is quite shocking to ‘Western’ readers. Why does he react this way?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the most basic of levels, Changez reacts the way he does to the events of September 11 because it represents a brief moment where America felt as weak as he does living in America.  Changez suggests that the idea of seeing America "brought to its knees" is where satisfaction resided for him.  It is in this that he is a "reluctant fundamentalist."  Changez's reaction to the event was carefully worded.  He says very little about the motivation of the attack and does not express much in way of admiration for the political agenda of the plotters.  Rather, he simply expresses how much satisfaction he derived from seeing America in a weakened condition.  In this, Changez's reaction is forged because he had been living in a weakened condition in America.  Always being subject to another person or another group's judgments or stereotypes, always being seen as fundamentally different, and always being assessed in a manner that was viewed as second best had taken a toll on him from an emotional standpoint.  It culminates in seeing the physical representation of his own debilitated emotional state in the same debilitated state of America after the September 11 attacks.  In seeing the buildings fall, he sees an externalization of his own disarray and emotional fragmentation visited upon America, the nation that he credits with this entropy.

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