Identify the general idea behind this quote from The Reluctant Fundamentalist:  “And you - to jump as though you were a mouse suddenly under the shadow of a hawk!”

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a fairly interesting exchange in which the quote appears between the American and Changez.  At this point in the narrative, the power has been cut off in the cafe in which they both sit.  The lights go out and the sudden nature of it is startling to the American.  Changez notes this in his descriptions.  He talks about how the American should be seated, as there is no reason for harm or worry.  Changez also talks about how the American does not need to place his hands in his pocket, as crime in Lahore of that kind is described to be minimal.  Finally, when the lights return, the quote that describes the American during the power outage as a "mouse suddenly under the shadow of a hawk" emerges.  The general idea is to convey how the American reacted during the power cut.  Yet, the interesting element here is that Changez might be describing the American as not merely someone during the power outage, but rather as an agent, a subtext that had been present as an almost double reading throughout the text.  If this is the case, then Changez's descriptions are even more gravitational.  The American getting up suddenly might have been to be more aware as an attack could happen during the power outage.  The reaching inside his pocket might not be for his wallet, but actually for his gun or weapon in a holster.  Thus, the "mouse" and "hawk" comparison might be more in line of how Changez could be the "mouse" and the American, the "hawk."  It is here where the general and secondary idea of the quote is meaningful.