In Chapter 8 of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, how does Changez try to ease the American’s mind?
In Chapter 8 of this novel, Changez begins by making an observation about his anonymous American companion, who is the audience of his tale. It is clear from what Changez says that the American is rather concerned about the waiter who is at the restaurant where they sit. Changez himself says that "he is an intimidating chap, larger even than you are." However, he goes on to explain away his rather "intimidating" appearance, seeking to allay the fears of the American and to reassure him that there is nothing wrong:
But the hardness of his weathered face can readily be accounted for: he hails from our mountainous northwest, where life is far from easy. And if you should sense that he has taken a disliking to you, I would ask you to be so kind as to ignore it; his tribe merely spans both sides of our border with neighbouring Afghanistan, and has suffered during offensives conducted by your own countrymen.
There are two important things to note about this comment. On the one hand, Changez seeks to offer a reason for the waiter's surliness that is designed to make the American less concerned. On the other hand, he goes on to offer a comment that can only be presented as somewhat ambiguous. He does nothing in the second sentence to pretend that there might not be some animosity and only asks the American to ignore it, which is something that the already concerned American is going to find even more dificult to do when he is told that this waiter may have cause to feel animosity towards him. Whilst this is an example of Changez reassuring the American, at the same time, it also can be seen as a highly ambivalent comment that could indicate Changez is an unreliable narrator, and that he is, as the American later on suspects, plotting some kind of attack with the waiter.