How is Changez loyal?

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

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This is a very tough question.  Honestly, I think that you can go in a variety of directions with it.  Like so much in Hamid's work, the question of loyalty is up for debate and discussion.  Little in way of absolutes are offered because there is little in the modern setting that is absolute.  I think that Hamid constructs the idea of loyalty as being seen as a contingent condition, a temporal state that is determined on how events and revelations into oneself unfold.  Loyalty is not seen as something permanent, rather it is fluid.  Changez is certainly loyal to America at the outset of the novel.  He takes on much in order to fulfill what he considers to be the tenets of American loyalty.  Certainly being able to adopt American notions of identity, work at a demanding pace without much in way of accommodation, and never flinch at what is asked out of him in a desire to inundate himself as "American" are all parts of Changez's loyalty.  He is loyal to Erica, almost to a fault, as he indicates it is acceptable for her to imagine him as Chris when they make love.  Even if one argues that this is self- serving, it does show a sense of loyalty to another if he is willing to subjugate his identity.  At the same time, Changez does recognize that he needs to be more loyal to Pakistan primarily because he perceives America as not being loyal to it.  His desire to want to understand his own sense of identity in terms of why he feels torn, the revelation of being a jannissary, and his commitment to needing to stand up for Pakistan because no one else is.  Changez's loyalty extends to his students, to whom he offers his unconditional support as a university lecturer.  In these instances, loyalty is defined as contingent, something that varies based on circumstance and condition.  Loyalty is not something absolute, but rather fluid, similar to the conditions of modern setting.  It is here where I think that loyalty is defined and embodied through Changez's characterization.

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