The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid

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What conclusions does Hamid want the reader to draw from The Reluctant Fundamentalist about Changez's identity in America?

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I think that Hamid wants the reader to fully appreciate how much Changez wanted to embrace "the American Dream."  Changez was eager and willing to do just about anything in order to assimilate himself to what it meant to be "in America."  When assessing how he becomes the fundamentalist he does in the work, it is essential to detail to what extent he wanted to be embraced by America.  Hamid wants the reader to take special note of this.  Changez deliberately impersonates his colleagues, to this end.  This is reflected in his statement that, "I attempted to act and speak, as much as my dignity would permit, more like an American."  Changez even begins to localize his American experience, identifying himself as a New Yorker: 

I was… never an American; I was immediately a New Yorker… you’re right, I tend to become sentimental when I think of that city.

For Hamid, it is very important for the reader to know that Changez wanted to be more American than anything else.  It is here where Hamid makes it clear that Changez's reluctance lies, something that was brought out in an interview with the author:

...All Muslims are suspect to a certain extent. We’re all fundamentalists until we prove otherwise, until we order that beer, or our girlfriend shows up in a miniskirt. I think we’ve all felt it.

Hamid wants the reader to understand that Changez's reluctance lies in his essential embrace of America, something that called to him for most of his early life and an entity that he represented in the first half of his narrative.  Changez might be a fundamentalist now, but Hamid wants the reader to know that within this, there is some level of self- hate given how much he yearned to be a part of something that existentially rejected him.

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