I think that Hamid wants the reader to grasp the idea that if anyone depends solely on external appreciation to justify their sense of self, problems will arise. What is given externally in a positive light can be taken away externally in a negative one. Changez's time in America was mostly external. The educational and employment opportunities resulted in not much in way of emotional satisfaction, as much as they did in external justifications such as money, prestige, and standing. Changez's relationship with Erica was not grounded in emotions as much as the fact that he was happy to be with her for what she represented. Changez's relationship with Erica did not feature much in way of emotional contact as much as it did with the "getting" or the "pursuit." In the moment of sexual contact between them, Changez was willing to sacrifice his own sense of self in order to be sexually engaged with Erica. Changez never really sees a type of emotional grounding with Erica. She is just another part of the external construction of self that Hamid draws out for the reader. It becomes clear that if one seeks validation in the form of externals, at some point, a "crash" or some type of awakening will occur. The challenge that Changez faced in the events of September 11 was that such events are seismic in how they exact a toll on what core values on really holds. It was here where Changez realized that he lacked such core values in terms of his time in America. The need for validation is important, but not as essential as something internal that drives the individual outside of the external. This is brought out in Hamid's characterization of Changez and would have to represent one of those elements that he strongly desires the reader to grasp about the nature of validation and affirmation in light of the necessity for core values to guide an individual.