The Reluctant Fundamentalist Narrative Essay Example
The Reluctant Fundamentalist Narrative Essay Example

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Narrative Essay Example

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  • Pages: 3 (755 words)
  • Published: April 22, 2018
  • Type: Film Review
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Upon moving to America, a Pakistani man embarks on a quest for the American dream. Initially feeling like an outsider as a minority, Changez is eventually embraced by the American meritocracy. He is offered the opportunity to achieve success as an American but encounters difficulties in fully assimilating and ultimately faces rejection as he adheres to societal norms.

Questioning his identity caused Changez to lose sight of his Pakistani roots, making him feel like a foreigner when returning to his homeland. After the 9/11 attacks, Changez decides to embrace his outsider status rather than trying to blend in as an American. The conflicting identities of being Pakistani and American don't harmonize, resulting in Changez becoming an outsider in both countries. Despite his efforts to assimilate, Changez remained an outsider.

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Being one of the "two non-Americans in the entering class at Princeton," Changez immediately found himself in the minority. Following his visit to Manila, Changez consciously chose to "speak and act like an American, as much as [his] dignity [would] allow him," in order to better assimilate into American culture. However, despite his efforts to become a typical American, he still feels a stronger connection to a Filipino taxi driver in Manila than to the Americans he was associating with. He observes the foreignness of an American with fair hair and remarks how he felt much closer to the Filipino driver than to him.

Similar to his initial sexual experience with Erica, Changez experiences rejection from America. Even after instructing Erica to consider him as Chris during their sexual encounter, there are still hints of aggression, and despite his efforts to

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modify his identity to meet Erica's expectations, he remains unaccepted. Regardless of the alterations he undergoes in his language, attire, and behavior, Changez never truly becomes an American. After investing extensive time and effort in assimilating into American society, Changez returns to Pakistan only to perceive it through the perspective of an outsider.

His confusion in identity causes him to lose the sense of belonging he once had. According to Erica, he used to appear "solid" and exude a strong sense of home. However, upon returning to Pakistan, he realizes that he has become "lacking in substance" and has transformed into the type of entitled, unsympathetic American that once irked him. By making an effort to assimilate as an American, Changez has forgotten his Pakistani roots, leaving him feeling like an outsider in his own country.

Changez always feels like he doesn't belong in America, but it is only after 9/11 that he actively chooses to become an outsider. His response to the tragedy differs from what a true American would typically feel. Instead of sadness or anger, Changez smiles and feels satisfied watching America being brought down. This moment becomes a turning point for him, prompting him to grow a beard as a protest. Upon his return to America with the beard, he faces racial profiling and is shouted at by a man in a car park due to his appearance.

Despite encountering racism and being advised by his friend Wainright to shave his beard, Changez decides to keep it as a symbol of defiance. He now realizes the inescapability of his foreignness and chooses not to assimilate as an American.

Instead, he intends to make a statement by declaring himself a proud outsider. However, this conflicting identity prevents Changez from feeling a sense of belonging in both Pakistan and America.

When Changez visits a Pakistani deli in New York, he tries to use an American Express corporate charge card, which is a symbol of prosperity and wealth. However, the cashier refuses to accept the card. The deli might represent Changez's life in Pakistan, while the American Express card symbolizes the life he has built in America. These two aspects of his life are incompatible and cannot coexist. It is only when Changez encounters Juan Bautista that he comprehends his inability to remain loyal to both America and Pakistan.

He becomes an “ex janissary’ and returns to Pakistan where he is able to feel a sense of belonging as he no longer possess conflicting identities. Changez begins his journey as a hardworking young man trying his best to fit in in America and willing to change himself to adapt. However, his change in identity does not result in acceptance as an American but leads him to lose his sense of belonging in Pakistan. Changez experiences feeling out of place in both America and Pakistan due to his conflicting loyalties to both countries.

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