Rethinking Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist through a Transnational Identity: the Protagonist's Shifting Sense of Belonging


Demirel M.

9th International IDEA Conference: Studies in English, Malatya, Turkey, 15 - 17 April 2015, vol.4, no.2, pp.115-122

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 4
  • City: Malatya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.115-122

Abstract

    A transnational approach to individual identity has come to the fore front recently. This approach is what Mohsin Hamid is concerned with in his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, in which he presents a transnational character displaying the Pakistani experience of migration to America. The protagonist of the novel, Changez, has bicultural characteristics and his idea of home changes in accordance with time and space. In the first half of his story, America is the place where Changez feels "at home." However, there is a particular turning point of life for him, which is the 9/11 attack to the Twin Towers, and this experience functions as an agent of self-awareness, shifting his sense of belonging from the host country, that is America,  to the homeland, which is Pakistan. Thus, Changez spiritually returns to the homeland in the second half of his story. While, prior to the 9/11 attack,  Changez enjoys his “Americanness,” represented by the American education, the American girl, and the American business, his shifted identity after the event brings a consciousness of his “origin,” and in the end, the “Pakistani Changez” overwhelms his American self. Thus, Hamid displays how fragile and fragmented identities might become in modern times.