“You’re a watchful guy. You know where that comes from? It comes from feeling out of place.” Changez is not the only outsider in The Reluctant Fundamentalist - every character is an outsider....

“You’re a watchful guy. You know where that comes from? It comes from feeling out of place.” Changez is not the only outsider in The Reluctant Fundamentalist - every character is an outsider. Discuss.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jim, the boss who takes Changez under his wing in this novel, is the character who utters the quote in this question. He himself identifies that he is an outsider numerous times in the novel, saying, for example, when Changez is in his flat, "I know what it's like to be an outsider." Jim identifies his own outsider status as being a result of his working class roots, and Changez seems to suggest that the "not insignificant number of male nudes" that adorn his walls likewise indicate that his outsider status stems from his sexuality. Jim therefore feels a bond with Changez that leads him to identify a fellow outsider.

It is clear that Changez is likewise an outsider. In spite of all of his efforts, he never feels truly accepted in America, and this feeling is something that only grows exponentially after 9/11. This is something that is indicated as he watches footage of a ghost attack on Afghanistan on American news:

Afghanistan was Pakistan's neighbour, our friend, and a fellow Muslim nation besides, and the sight of what I took to be the beginning of its invasion by your countrymen caused me to tremble with fury.

This "fury" is something that simmers until Changez decides to leave his job and America and return to Pakistan, as he realises he can never fully fit in to America and also that he feels his Pakistani identity more strongly.

Lastly, it could be argued that Erica is likewise an outsider. She, in spite of her first presentation as a "lioness" and a particularly strong and beautiful person, shows how out of place she is in a country where strength and the appearance of competence is everything. Her mental collapse and her eventual disappearance seems to signify that she is an outsider who does not fit into the rat race that is American life just as much as Jim and Changez, though in different ways.

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