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"The Reluctant Fundamentalist"- Themes, Style, Structure and Context

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Ujwal Ganguly, Q. How can a literary text?s style and structure reflect the context in which it was written? ________________ ________________ My answer: The protagonist of Mohsin Hamid?s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a deeply introspective character whose story is an emotional rollercoaster. Hamid?s novel is the story of the rise and fall of Changez?s relationship with America. The novel takes the form of a dramatic monologue, with Changez as the speaker addressing a mysterious American man. His story addresses his time in America from the beginning to the end. Hamid?s use allegory, along with the structure, setting and characters of the story help enhance the inner conflict that Changez goes through. The first and perhaps the most striking stylistic feature of them all in this Novel is the author?s use of the dramatic monologue. A dramatic monologue is ?a poetic form in which a single character, addressing a silent auditor at a critical moment, reveals himself or herself and the dramatic situation.? Here, the single character addressing the reader is Changez and the silent auditor is the unnamed American. ...read more.


As towards the beginning of his life, Americans were the one?s with the power, the use of this monologue shows the current contrast of things. Also, along with the iconic dramatic monologue, Hamid uses literary devices like allegory (or more simply, symbolism), to develop this story. The Reluctant Fundamentalist has two readings. The dominant one being the story on the surface and the alternative one is the inner conflict that intertwines both the aspect of culture and Changez? search for identity. The two main allegories used are ?Underwood Samson? and ?Erica and Chris?. Underwood Samson is the premiere job that Changez gets after graduating Summa c, um Laude from Princeton University. Despite being one of the best new recruits and a favourite of his boss Jim, Changez still has to constantly prove himself at every point in his job. An example of this is when he was held back at the airport for questioning and his cooleagues did not wait. ...read more.


The story itself ? the main one takes place in Lahore ? in the Anarkali Bazaar. Hamid uses this setting for a number of reasons. Lahore is the protagonist?s home turf. The American is now on HIS land. This, like the use of the dramatic monologue gives him the power in the story. The setting also helps create that contrast with his previous life, as now it is the American who is the marginalised one and it is his who?s life is in the Pakistani?s hands. It also helps enhance how he must have felt when he lived amongst Americans, although he had tried to fit in, it still conveys that slight intimidation that the American feels in the daunting presence of the crowded bazaar. To conclude, it can be seen how Mohsin Hamid through the use of Allegory, the structure and the dramatic monologue has effectively enhanced the contect of the story itself. ...read more.

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