The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid

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Who does Wainwright represent in America's response to 9/11 in The Reluctant Fundamentalist?

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I tend to see Wainwright as an example of the American population that understood the demonizing of Middle Easterners and followers of the Islamic faith as wrong.  Yet, Wainwright also represents a section of Americans that advocated the idea of assimilation, even at the cost of personal identity.  Wainwright is constructed as a character that embraces a sense of "lightness."  He does not seek to demonstrate political activism.  When Changez begins to move in this realm, Wainwright does not authenticate his voice.  Rather, he stresses to him that he evade the pain of discrimination by shaving his beard.  Wainwright represents the section of Americans that did not embrace demonizing people of the Islamic faith or those from the region of the world so heavily associated with the September 11 attacks.  However, like this group of people, Wainwright fails to speak out against the tide of "nostalgia" that American society and government endures.  He does not speak out against the silencing of voice that Changez and people like him experienced after the September 11 attacks, choosing instead to embrace homogeneity and assimilation over introspection and dissent in the face of that which silences.

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