116th Annual Conference - Bellingham, Washington
Friday, November 9 - Sunday, November 11, 2018

Changez’s Unsustainable Hybrid Identity in Moshin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Debbie Sayachack, Fresno State University

Changez’s internalizes his struggles of being a Muslim immigrant and a part of the American elite at the time of national mourning after the 9/11 attack. After being rejected and stereotyped by the society he is attempting to assimilate into, Changez realizes that he cannot have a hybrid identity. His experience of rejection represents the polarization between the Muslim world and America. Changez’s position as the Other, in the novel, allows for a voice from the marginalized perspective. 


This presentation argues that the characterization tropes used in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalists is a representation of the polarization between the Muslim world and America and its heightened tension after the 9/11 attack. Undeniably, the rise of America’s national solidarity and patriotism promoted oppositions against the Muslim community—generating a xenophobic and Islamophobic attitude towards members of this community.

In this novel, Hamid’s protagonist, Changez, struggles internally and externally with his hybrid identity by which one facet of his identity is being an immigrant and part the American corporate elite, and the other is his Muslim/Pakistani roots. Following the September 11 attack, Changez’s position and failed relationship in the American capitalistic world represents the overall failed relationship between the Muslim world and the United States. Changez’s internalized conflict of his Pakistani roots clashes with the external world he is attempting to join and reveals that sustaining one identity results in the loss of the other.