Identify the meaning of the following quote from The Reluctant Fundamentalist:  “I remember vividly the feeling of her skin, cool and smooth on mine.”

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that this is one of those quotes that might actually exist on its own, representing its own brand of aesthetics and not necessarily have a political connection.  While Changez is a political being, the "reluctant fundamentalist," there was a point in time when he was someone who simply existed with political ideology.  This is where his "reluctance" enters.  His experiences with fundamentalism are only after his experience in a world where political dogma was absent.  This particular point in the novel was one of those instances.  In talking about the moment when he and Erica walk out of Central Park, arm in arm, there is a moment, an aesthetic that exists devoid of political ideology.  The feelings and sensations involved in the quote, in terms of how he felt touching her skin against his own, is something that does not find its root in political differences with the West or with disdain for American foreign policy.  Rather, it is reflective of how he felt, at a point when he believed himself to be in love with an ideal and someone that embodied it.  People in love often remember these experiences of the sensory perception that bring a subjective feeling into external reality.  While this is not the representation of who Changez is over the course of the novel, it is an instant that does reflect who he was:  Someone who was in love with an American, and remembers the feelings of touching flesh with whom he loved.  While much changes in Changez, it is important to note these isolated instances where somewhere in time he existed without a political attachment to his identity.