The Reluctant Fundamentalist-Term Paper

Topics: Identity, Social identity, September 11 attacks Pages: 19 (6871 words) Published: August 3, 2013
Justus Liebig University Giessen English Department Seminar: “Terrorism” Prof. Dr. Greta Olson Summer Semester 2011

Identity and Identification in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Table of Contents
1. Introduction .............................................................................................................. 1 2. Identity and Identification in the Discourse of The Reluctant Fundamentalist ....... 2 2.1 Reliability of the Narrator .................................................................................. 2 2.2 Intermedial References ....................................................................................... 3 2.3 Visual Vocabulary .............................................................................................. 6 3. Identity and Identification in the Story of The Reluctant Fundamentalist ............... 8 3.1 Changez and His Different Personae ................................................................. 8 3.2 Pre and Post September 11 Identity and Identification .................................... 10 3.2.1 Changez’ Outer Appearance and the Melting Pot New York ................... 10 3.2.2 September 11 and Its Effects on Changez ................................................. 11 3.2.3 Changez’ Beard and Post September 11 ................................................... 12 4. Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 16 5. Works Cited............................................................................................................ 18

1. Introduction
Ten years after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, 9/11 and connected concepts such as terrorism, Islamism and the war on terror are still present in the media all over the world. Undeniably, 9/11 represented a clear cut in world history and attacked the U.S. as superpower at her deepest. The events have been of great importance for the world’s development in the last ten years and affected people in their everyday life. Being such a decisive event, a lot of people found in music, writing or other creative works an important means to process their feelings. Mohsin Hamid hence joins numerous narrative representations of 9/11 with his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (TRF). However, at the same time, he breaks with the dominant western point of view in narrative representations of 9/11 by telling the personal 9/11-story of a young Pakistani living in the U.S. Examining Hamid’s work, the reader might perceive that the beard plays an important role throughout the novel. This facial hair appears to have symbolic quality, as it is often taken as an outward identifying feature for terrorists. Immediately, the problem of inferring a specific identity on the basis of outer identification arises and develops to a guiding theme in TRF. This paper therefore wants to examine how identity and identification are represented in the discourse as well as in the story of TRF and which means are employed to substantiate this central hypothesis in the novel. As not only story-based implications substantiate the hypothesis that the novel TRF can be read as questioning identity deduction from outer identification of a person, the first part of this paper will reflect upon the discourse, that is, the narrative design of the story in TRF. Using the distinction between story and discourse as introduced in Russian formalism, the structure of the narrative with focus upon reliability of the narrator, intermedial references, as well as specific lexical choices will be investigated. In a second step, the paper at hand tries to examine the representation of identity and identification in the story of the novel. In this part, the protagonist’s struggle with identity will be outlined by taking a rather poststructuralist point of view. The paper will start off the second part by elaborating at first on the...
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