In Lahore; Chapter 8Why is the American threatened by the waiter? “He is from the mountainous regions near Afghanistan.”

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening of chapter 8 helps to develop some of the character tension regarding the American.  Changez explains the background of the waiter to the American:  “He is from the mountainous regions near Afghanistan.”  This helps to establish a couple of elements about the American and his relationship to what is happening in the narrative.  The first is that the anxiousness the American feels is symbolic of the tension that exists between America and the rest of the world, particular in Changez's mind in how America invades Afghanistan.  The waiter hailing from Afghanistan is living proof of the American foreign policy in the wake of September 11 which has caused more tension and angst in the world than alleviate it.  This is how Changez frames the narrative for the reader.  The American's fear of the physicality of the water represents how he might feel threatened by someone like the waiter who comes from Afghanistan.  At the same time, the American's feeling of anxiousness helps to convey that his purpose in being in Lahore is not as much for leisure as it is for a "mission."  The American's reaction to the waiter and his focus on the waiter are details that go towards confirming such a characterization.

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