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Insider’s perspective

In Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist the main character Changez’s monologue felt like he was having a conversation with you. Rather than feeling like the story was being told to you. By writing the book this way the reader feels like an insider rather than an outsider. The conversational manner by which Changez expresses his story with the American makes it seem like the reader is there. Despite knowing that as the reader you are in fact an outsider, one can almost picture sitting down and eating with him. The openness of his monologue makes it feel like we actually know him on a more personal and intimate level. We learn about Changez thoughts and feelings in a way that would not have been possible if there was a dialogue. The fact that we never hear from the American who is actually eating with him, reinforces the insider’s perspective for the reader. The reader can almost develop an emotional connection with Changez. If there was dialogue between the two men, if we had been able to know what the American said or what his responses were, it would have potentially reminded the reader of their actual position in the story as an outsider.

 “I was, in four and a half years, never an American; I was immediately a New Yorker.”(33)

Despite Changez opening up and making the reader feel like an insider, it is unclear throughout the entire story whether he himself has an insider’s or outsider’s perspective on September 11th. He seems like he has an insider’s perspective when he says that he was a New Yorker, along with the fact that he is telling his story. However he also makes it clear that he is an outsider when he remarks that he was never American that we retreated into our own assumptions of superiority.

2 Responses to “Insider’s perspective”

  1. Olivia says:

    I am intrigued by — and glad to see — this new take on what it can mean to be an “insider” versus an “outsider” in relation to Hamid’s novel. I had not considered the implications of the reader taking on these roles as an interaction with the text. I do wonder why, when you say that Changez brings the reader into his story as an insider, this cannot also apply to the American in the café with Changez.

  2. Sarah: Thanks so much for this post. Certainly the psychological tension within Changez as to whether he is or is not an American — or could have been had his life and/or world events gone differently — fuels the narrative.