Setting is crucial to the key concerns of The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Discuss how the different settings influence Changez?

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

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Certainly, the physical changes in setting helps to bring out the emotional changes in Changez.  It is almost as if Hamid is making the case the physical changes in landscape help to evoke the similar level of change within Changez's own sense of self.  The notion of change and "Changez" become reflected in the physical change in setting.  How Changez is when he first settles in America, where roots are not established, is reflective of his embrace in the American notion of the opportunity ideology.  The awkwardness he feels in the Hamptons with Erica's parents helps to bring out the emergence of a basic element that Changez is not at home in America.  He is an outsider in an insider's world.  His viewing of the September 11 attacks from abroad is more of a statement as to where Changez is in this stage in his life.  The voyage to South America is a moment in which he is searching for an identity and within the socio- economic turbulence of a nation "South" of America, Changez begins to understand his own identity as being one that is staunchly against America. His return to Pakistan is more of a statement of how he has turned in his own sense of identity towards America.  Changez might never really find a home, committed to the life of "the reluctant fundamentalist," but is one in which he understands that his own being is more at home with being defined against America.  In this sense, his position in Anarkali is more of being "the other," an individual in the metaphorical cafe, waiting for dark, and seeking to find his own sense of content in a temporal world.