The Reluctant Fundamentalist | Summary and Analysis
Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist aims at redefining Islamic Fundamentalism as a discourse shaped by the voice of political emancipation and strong anti-imperial spirit. The novel dismantles some of the formative principle of Islamic fundamentalism which is often taken as a discourse of pointless xenophobic hatred on the basis of irrational and eccentric sentiments. This research is critical study of the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist from neo-colonialist perspective.
East-west encounters are the major part of the novel. The novel revolves around Changez’s class origin and his struggle in Pakistan and in the America for financial progress. Changez, as an expatriate Pakistani in America, relates himself to Pakistan and his fellow marginalized Muslim race by expressing a profound sense of sympathy and affinity to the attackers of the world trade center. He resents America and American domination to the Muslim race and rents his furry against constant American interference upon Asian countries. He turns out to be an anti-American and a rebel by resisting what America does to his nation and race. Changez’s ugliest and the most controversial manifestation of his latent Islamist- nationalist and anti American’s can be sensed in his expression of profound satisfaction on the terrorist attacks on September 11. Although he is sympathetic to the victim, he becomes happy to see America’s destruction. Because of his Islamic background, he finds himself being insulted by America’s aggressive foreign policy and its because of this, in an inner provinces of his heart, he has a sense of jealousy and revenge and thus he desires America’s downfall in spite of having a job with lucrative salary, a beautiful American girlfriend in America. Further he realizes that any support from his side to any American agency would be a support for America so he decides to leave America forever. It’s an act of resistance against American policy of colonization and domination.Johnson presents Rutherford Calhoun as a writer and creator of fiction who narrates the whole events through monologue, which posses many truths. He presents the reality of freedom, slavery and contemporary stratus of African American people in the form of which collects the history of subaltern consciousness of slave the slaves. He has presented Allmuseri tribe to represent the endemic quality of inter subjective. A problematic situation here in the novel seems of the Allmuseri and exposes their lacks of ‘unity of being’ and complications of African-American experience.
Contemporary criticism, by contrast, tends to subvert the imperial authority. Critics like Philip G. Altbach are of the opinion that Neo-colonialism is partly a planned policy of advanced nations to maintain their influence in developing countries, but it is also simply a continuation of past practices. It is a discursive practice of European domination over non-western territories. As an expatriate, Changez always defends Pakistan. He removes the Pakistan’s action in his narrative. Changez is absorbed in this fact and is more complicated in defenses on part of his nation. Changez becomes invariably furious at the American attack on Afghanistan which he considers his fellow Muslim nation and a neighbor. In this he forgets the fact that it was Pakistan who supported the Taliban and it was his nation which shattered the military base of al-quade. He criticizes India too. He blames India and America being involve in conspiracy against Pakistan as being India and aggressor and America and accessory. He does not like America’s apparent neutrality which become on favor of the powerful one. Having identified himself with Pakistan and preserving Pakistan’s innocence Changez fulfills his responsibility and intellectual honesty to his birth place. Certainly, Changez cannot efface his identity as a Pakistani. His national sentiment is determined by the contingencies of birth and upbringing rather than neo-colonial power America.Johnson’s fiction shows the homage to the picaresque about sea travel, human nature and self discovery in a riveting and thrilling way. This detailed, historically precise and phase of the trans-atlantics slave trade and on the adventures of ex-salve, is in an advertent. He also presents an unwilling participant in the enslaving of the Allmuseri tribe. He had given the fictional date of the year 1830; to make the fiction seems to be real. The story is presented through the protagonist of the novel Rutherford Calhoun, recently freed slave, who is in the voyage.
On the other hand, the research also delves into the issue of western exploitation over non-western worker Changez as a Muslim, is marginalized and exploited in the USA while in the Underwood Samson also, he is misbehaved, dominate and sub- ordinate. The writers like Jim and his fellow colleagues think themselves to be superior to Changez not because they are more efficient then him but only because they are white and Christians. In this way the politics of race is concerned here just as a means to exploit and subjugate another race (Muslim) which is in marginalization. Changez, thus, gets an arbitrary identity as a Muslim in the community of the whites. In the novel Allmuseri tribe has been presented as the subaltern group, marginalized group and is shown in the positive way. They didn’t eat meat and were easy to feed. They didn’t like property. They were so simple to wear cloth. They required no medicine. They seldom fight and steal things. They feel so sick if they wronged anyone. These all characteristic of Allmuseri have clearly proved that they were so simple and loving creature. But the reality and culture of Allmuseri have already been abducted and were taken to make slave of their master.
Another issue that the research raises is the anti-imperial sentiment of the protagonist Changez caused by neo-imperial discursive practices. Identity crisis of protagonist is the cause of American domination and colonization. Changez’s identity shifts from one to another. His identity is determined by class, race and ethnicity nationality gender etc. which is the neo-imperial policy of exploitation. It is the neo-imperial policy, his situations and contingencies which condition him through out the novel. He is at first a Pakistani, then a Muslim, a terrorist and anti-American rebel, and a member of the minority group of America. He can never satisfy with neo-imperial policy of identity formation to create domination over non-western Muslim people in America. His identity is created and hence shifted from one to another because of neo-imperial policy.The novel opens with Calhoun playing the role of the freeman being enslaved after being set free. Calhoun presented the time situation of June 14, 1830 upto August 20, 1830: as the time period of the novel starting and its ending. When the novel ends with Calhoun’s freedom, we can find the psychic consequences of slavery. From Calhoun’s role we can assume that neither of us are freeman nor can we get rid of it. Calhoun came from Illinois form in search of freedom at New Orleans but can’t get there and ran to the republic for new life of freedom by his own will. When the novel ends he seems to be free but is again in bond of marriage with Isadora and as a father of Baleka. But Calhoun is ready to establish his existence, struggling with the problems.
This is an extensive analysis from Neo-colonialist perspective. IT reveals how the novel documents the instance of discourse, representation, situations, contingencies and the identity formation of the center character in restrictive socio-political, cultural, national and ethnic boundaries. It can be claimed as a find creation written by a non-western writer in English language, which is characterized by dazzling shifts of socio-cultural, political and ideological encounter that exposes the assortment of a number of such issues in the post September 9/11 Muslim experience in the west. In this way it can be seen that he is a symbolic being who is conditioned by different situations. Protagonist inconsistencies are the cause of neo-colonialism.Johnson focuses on slavery, psychological notion and about the subaltern consciousness. During the course of middle passage, Rutherford Calhoun discovers several things about cultures and dignity, about disillusionment of himself and the other character.
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