The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Stranger asks for a fork, but Changez suggests that he use his hands, since he and Changez have spent hours together and are comfortable with each other. The Stranger complies and eats his food with his hands.
Changez justifies dispensing with the fork because he and the Stranger have spent time with each other. That the Stranger agrees to use his hands suggests that he feels trust and connection with Changez, despite some reservations.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
On his trip back to Pakistan, Changez returns to Lahore and initially thinks that the city looks run-down. Then, he realizes that he is the one who has changed, not Lahore: he has become a stereotypical entitled American. He walks around the house he grew up in and notices its beautiful design and rich history, and is ashamed for thinking that Lahore is run-down. He realizes how easily he’s influenced by other people.
American culture and propaganda are so successful that they transform Changez into an entitled American in less than a year. Changez begins to realize that he is an immature man, who lacks the courage to make his own choices. This is the first step in his becoming a more mature person.
Themes
American Imperialism Theme Icon
Changez is happy to reunite with his brother, his mother, and his father. Changez doesn’t mention Erica to any of them. His brother tells him that he has friends who are fortifying their houses, and his parents seem frightened at the possibility of war with India, though they refuse to discuss it. Even so, at a banquet, Changez’s family agrees that India will use a recent attack on its parliament as an excuse to attack Pakistan, and that America will give aid to India, despite Pakistan’s aid to America. Changez’s relatives are all preparing themselves to face what they believe will be the coming violence.
After spending time in the United States, Changez is surprised and shocked to see the state of things in his country. His family’s description of America’s alliance with India begins to convince Changez that, in a sense, he is fighting against Pakistan by working for Underwood Samson.
Themes
Patriotism & Post-9/11 United States Theme Icon
Changez feels powerless to protect his family and his country, and ashamed to be returning to America so soon. He asks to stay longer, but his parents insist that he return, and suggest that he shave the beard he has grown in Pakistan. On the flight back to the United States, he notices how many other young men are leaving their home just as he is, and how odd it is for them to be leaving a nation at war instead of staying to defend it.
Changez wants to stay in Pakistan, but he doesn’t protest when his parents tell him to return — he still enjoys his job. His parents seem wiser and more perceptive about racism than he is, telling him to shave his beard, perhaps to avoid discrimination. That Changez grew the beard, though, suggests his sense of –re-connection with Pakistan. Changez also begins to think about America in broader terms, noting the harm that the departure of so many young men, himself included, for America does to his own country, and how American soft power lures people from foreign countries to join it even when those people are negatively affected by American military strategy or action.
Themes
Racism & Fundamentalism Theme Icon
American Imperialism Theme Icon
Get the entire The Reluctant Fundamentalist LitChart as a printable PDF.
The reluctant fundamentalist.pdf.medium
Changez asks the Stranger if he’s familiar with the military; the Stranger seems to assent, and Changez exclaims that the Stranger has been in the military, as he suspected.
The Stranger seems almost comfortable with Changez; he seems to divulge that he has been involved in the military, where before he was unwilling to answer any of the Stanger’s questions.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
Back at Underwood Samson, Changez notices that his colleagues are uneasy around him, since he has not shaved his beard, wanting to stand out from his colleagues. Wainwright warns him that he should keep his cultural difference outside the office, and that Underwood Samson only pretends to be friendly. Nonetheless, Changez refuses to shave, and marvels that America can seem so complacent when it’s at war with another country.
Changez begins to experience racism in America first-hand. At the same time, he starts to lose his best friend in the office, Wainwright. Though Wainwright in non-white, he encourages Changez to fit in at the American office, which Changez pointedly refuses to do. America’s complacency at war is a sign of its power, but also the way it is lost in its own past.
Themes
Patriotism & Post-9/11 United States Theme Icon
Racism & Fundamentalism Theme Icon
American Imperialism Theme Icon
Changez emails Erica, telling her about his anger and guilt, and letting her know that he misses her. Erica replies that she is in an institution, and that he should visit her. At Erica’s clinic, Changez meets a nurse, who tells him that Erica has described him as having long eyelashes. She warns Changez that Erica is in love with a dead person, and that Changez is the hardest person for her to see.
Erica’s treatment seems counter-productive. Where she needs to move on from Chris’s death, the clinic seems to encourage her to stay the same. It also seems that Erica still thinks of Changez as an exotic foreigner, as evidenced by her description of him having long eyelashes.
Themes
Racism & Fundamentalism Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Changez meets Erica, who looks distant and “devout,” as if she’s been fasting. Erica says she’s been thinking of him, and Changez asks her, ironically, if she’s been thinking about sex with an exotic foreigner. He begs her to come back to New York, but she replies by telling him about Chris. Changez fights the temptation to tell Erica that Chris is dead, and they say goodbye.
Erica’s religious appearance seems to mirror America’s turn toward Christian neo-conservatism during the War on Terror. Changez becomes angry with Erica where before he had been gentle and understanding. He also shows some awareness that, to Erica, he’s an exotic novelty.
Themes
Racism & Fundamentalism Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Changez becomes increasingly unpopular at work. Jim calls him into his office, and assures him that he doesn’t care about the beard, and understands Changez’s reasons for growing it. He asks Changez if he’d like to come to Chile for a challenging project involving a book publisher. Changez agrees without any enthusiasm. When Jim asks him for enthusiasm, Changez tries to sound sincere, but Jim looks puzzled.
Jim becomes Changez’s “last hope.” Changez is separated from his family, Wainwright, and Erica; only Jim, the representation of pure meritocracy and capitalist success, claims to understand what he’s going through. Whether he does or not is unclear, but already, Changez now shows few signs of genuine interest in the sort of success Underwood Samson offers.
Themes
Racism & Fundamentalism Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Changez observes that the Stranger has stopped eating. He suggests that they order some desert to accompany the tragic information coming ahead in Changez’s story.
Changez no longer has to find elaborate links between Pakistan and New York as an excuse to continue his story; the Stranger seems willing to listen to it.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon