THE RELUCTANT
FUNDAMENTALIST
A novel by Mohsin Hamid
AIMS
Students should be aware of the importance of:
 knowledge and skills related to intercultural dialogue;
 language and learning awareness;
 project skills and project work in a multilingual and
interculturaldimension;
 documentation in cultural exchange;
 effective communications in a multilingual contest;
 semantic research in language learning;
 cultural features and stereotypes
 the way language makes meaning.
OBJECTIVES
At the end of the work students should be able to:
 discuss the structure of the novel by Mohsin Ahmid “The
Reluctnat fundamnetalist”;
 single out the main function of each chapter with reference
to messagge;
 find out key words and expressions used to convey different
linguistic and cultural perspectives;
 carry out relevant textual analysis with reference to
sctructural elements of fiction(title,lay-out,structure,
denotation,setting,narrative strategy, use of language);
 draw personal conclusions and argumentations supported by
textual references;
 relationship sifgnifier-signified.
TITLE ANALYSIS

Fundamentalism:
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Strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.
Reluctant fundamentalist:
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The protagonist does not accept fundamentalism easily;
He is reluctant to religious fundamentalism (he drinks alcohol in spite of his
religion);
He is reluctant to economic fundamentalism (he realizes that he cannot
accept American fundamentals).
CHAPTER 1
Changez (the protagonist):
 Is a Pakistani university lecturer;
 Is having a conversation with an American about his
experience in the USA;
 Was a brilliant student at Princeton University;
 Was hired by the Underwood Samson Company: a valuation
company.
 Function: Protagonist ‘s introduction, Changez, and his life in the
USA.
Topics:
 Western and Eastern stereotypes: Western people → Eastern
people and viceversa (“you seemed to be on a mission”/”a certain
type of American”I”Now that is not typical of Americans”).

CHAPTER 2

After graduation, Changez went on holiday to Greece;

Meeting with Erica, a Princeton graduate who wants to become a novelist.

Function: Introduction of a new character, Erica.

Topics:
Market fundamentalism (dividends, trust funds, sign-on bonus);
Love relationship (“she listened intently when I spoke”/”an uncommon
magnetism”);
Two genders meeting (Changez and Erica);
Two different cultures come into contact
Different structure of each society (Western VS Eastern);
Different religious faith;
Stereotypes on Eastern women.
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CHAPTER 3




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The protagonist tells his interlocutor that he is very fond of New York;
He loved his job at Underwood Samson;
The teams were trained by Sherman in the arts of economic
fundamentalism: how to make as much money as possible and as quickly
and directly as possible;
The protagonist makes friends with Wainwright, another outsider.
Function: Development of Changez’ progressive adaptation to America
society.
Topics:
 Stereotypes about American society (“moving to New York felt – so
unexpectedly – like coming home”);
 Stereotypes and prejudice about Pakistanis as terrorists or
fundamentalists (“I was immediately a New Yorker.”);
 Semantic field of work: proud, professionalism, efficiency.

CHAPTER 4

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Changez understands Erica’s family live in impressive penthouse
apartment and feels a bit at home.
Changez annoyed by Erica’s father: stereotypical views on Pakistan;
Erica and Changez had a picnic lunch;
Erica describes the effect of Chris’s (her previous boyfriend) death
on her.
Function: Parabola of Changez and Erica’s relationship.
Topics:
 Stereotypes about fundamentalism in Eastern society (“You guys
have got some serious problems with fundamentalism”);
 Development of love relationship between Changez and Erica;
 Topic of illusion (“and for the first time I perceived that there was
something broken behind [her eyes]…”).

CHAPTER 5

Business trip to the Philippines to analyse a music company;
Fast meeting with a local inhabitant;
Changez reactions after World Trade Center bombing;
Change of Changez’s relationship with America.

Function:
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Development of 9/11 terrorist attack consequences on Changez.
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Topics:
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Different point of view on the World Trade Center (“New York’s World
Trade Center collapsed. And then I smiled”);
 Different focus: symbolism of the attack (“my thoughts were not with
the victims of the attack”);
 Crisis of main character's identity and extraneousness of his job.

CHAPTER 6
Post 9/11 and New York in mourning,
 Erica looked older, haunted by Chris‘ nightmare and exacerbation
in her grief;
 Erica took Changez to events with her but she was distant
with people;
 Changez’s attempt to make Erica be the woman he met
once failed;
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Function:
Development of 9/11 terrorist attack consequences on Changez and
America-Erica.
Topics:
 Development of love relationship between two different cultures;
 Discussion on life and death (flowers).

CHAPTER 7
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Changez focuses on his job;
Jim encourages him to ‘focus on the fundamentals’;
Changez sees the bombing of Afghanistan and feels
confused for the first time.
The protagonist tries hard to get into contact with Erica,
but they are uncomfortable to encounter.
Function:
Development of 9/11 terrorist attack  consequences on Changez.
Topics:
 Different types of fundamentalism: America → economic
fundamentalism (“Focus on the fundamentals”);
 Power of American economy on other societies’ (hypothesis);
 Topic of luxury (“These, sir, are predatory delicacies”).

CHAPTER 8
Changez visits Erica and she was in worse shape ever;
 Changez’s concern because of America’s nostalgia and
determination to look back;
 He was attacked by Arab-haters and was aggressive in his
response.


Function:
Development of 9/11 terrorist attack consequences on Changez and
American society.
Topics:
 Nostalgia: America →Old Glory/Changez → homeland;
 Fragility and weaknesses of human beings;
 Human beings’ hope (“I remained concerned for Erica’s well-being …probably irrational hope”).

CHAPTER 9
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Changez felt himself different, powerless, angry at the weakness
of his country;
He tried to get in touch with Erica, but it took him a while,
because she was in a clinic;
Changez is angry and worried about everything: job (he was
judged at work by his beard), America, Erica, Pakistan.

Function:
Development of 9/11 terrorist attack consequences on Changez.

Topics:
Incoming war: “artillery battery”, “conflict with India dominated the
conversation”, frontier towns;
Stereotypes by American society: Arabs with beard = Terrorist
Refusal of truth and reality, of multicultural cohabitation.
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CHAPTER 10
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During his business journey Changez meets Juan Bautista;
He makes Changez think about what he had become during the period in
America.

Function:
development of storyline (Twin Tower attack’s consequences on the
protagonist).

Topics:
 Luxury of American society VS other societies;
 Illnesses;
 War and conflicts;
 American capitalism;
 Janissarism of American employees;
CHAPTER 11
Changez’s decision not to be a part of American society and
decision of going back home;
 He visited Erica at the clinic for the last time but she
disappeared (probably she killed herself).

Function:
Conclusion of the novel.
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Topics:
 Protagonist’s confusion and questioning of his actions;
 Protagonist’s change;
 Return back home, nostalgia.
CHAPTER 12
Changez accompanies the American to his hotel, followed
by a group of Pakistanis.
 He is probably killed by the American, who might be an
undercover assassin.

Function:
Conclusion of the novel.
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Topics:
Multicultural experience of life (“we are all one”);
Protagonist’s emotive attachment to America;
Fight against terrorism (“motivated killing of civilians by killers not
wearing the uniforms of soldiers”);
Unreliability of narrator’s point of view (“I see from your expression
that you do not believe me.”).
USE OF LANGUAGE
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First person narrator for the last time  unreliable narrator, it
sounds as if Changez is speaking directly to the reader but it also
silences the American point of view;
Dramatic Monologue: long, uninterrupted speech of one character
directly addressing another character (or the audience).
Framed narrative: story within a story, with the narrative shifting
back and forth between the present storyteller and the story they
tell.
Changez is very specific and deliberate in the words he uses to
describe himself, America, Pakistan and when addressing to the
American interlocutor.
CREDITS
Workgroup
Abetini Matteo, Ferrazzo Michael, Mazza Lorenzo
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid, Reclams UniversalBibliothek Nr. 19876, © Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart
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