Using this quote from The Reluctant Fundamentalist, discuss an interpretation of it:  “But why do you leap to your feet? Do not be alarmed.”

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote is Changez's immediate acknowledgement of the lights going out in the cafe where he and the American are talking.  The American is noticeably startled from the cutting off of the power supply, taken aback by its sudden nature.  On one hand, an interpretation of the quote could be that Changez is comforting the American, trying to allay him that this is normal.  On the other hand, a subterranean interpretation of the quote could be that Changez is trying to allay the American, placing him back in his seat so that Changez can continue to be able to assess him if the American is indeed there on a mission.  Changez might be trying to soothe him a bit in order for the American to remain seated.  This would enable Changez to continue to monitor him, someone that Changez has already suggested is there for a mission.  On the other hand, it might simply be another ploy for Changez to be able to continue with his plan, if one believes that Changez does indeed have a plan and is intended to carry it out.  For the American to be seated is a part of that, something that is disrupted if the American rises to his feet.  It is here where the quote acquires different meanings, dependent on how one reads the situation between Changez and the American.  The implication of this is fairly profound in that it becomes the way situations are understood and interpreted that play a large role in their outcome, reflecting a general theme that Hamid might be bringing out regarding the nature of fundamentalism in the modern setting.