Discuss the meaning of this quote in The Reluctant Fundamentalist:  "More than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission..." P.g 1

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote helps to bring out the initial impression that Changez has of the American.  It is through this that we, as the reader, both understand Changez's impression of his audience and through which the American and we become the audience.  The fact that the American is "more than looking" is reflective of how the issue of fundamentalism in the Islamic world is not merely a topic of "interest."  We are on a "mission" to understand it, grasp it and make sense of it.  In this light, we, the readers and audience, are like the American who listens to Changez's narrative.  The use of the term "mission" helps to bring out how Changez sees the American, reflective of someone in the military who is precise in how he answers the phone on each hour in a text and how he studies Changez, as well as is attune to the waiter as well as changes in the environment as he sits with his back to the wall.  At the same time,  such elements are never really confirmed one way or the other, so the first person narration structure does not yield us much in way of absolute certainty.  There is the American, as the audience, and we struggle to make sense of his presence, just as there is struggle in seeking to better understand Changez's narrative.  In this, the reader is discharged with another "mission" where the casual "looking" is not entirely applicable.  It is more focused than that.