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Dual Identity: diffusion of seclusion and illusion

Controversial Content
Added: Sunday, March 11th 2012 at 5:39pm by jcampbell27
Related Tags: controversial, life, ideas

                It often seems in life that our experiences change who we are, or our self perception. I could be wrong, but it appears as such. This transformation can happen either too quickly or too slowly leaving us with a sense of double identity. Changez in the reluctant fundamentalist feels the weight of his connection to Lahore Pakistan (his home country,) but also has a connection to America, both of which are locked in a deadly tug of war towards the end of the book. After meeting with Juan Batista (a client of Underwood Samson)Changez realizes he is caught between two extremes of fundamentalism. On the one hand, his Job at Underwood Samson as a speculator on the value of companies epitomizes in his view the American Empire which he is reluctantly a part of. This empire has been responsible in Changez' eyes for all recent historical catastrophe's on his homecontinent, is responsible for rhetoric that clouds the minds of US citizens to see rival worlds 1st, 3rd etc. instead of the one world we all share.

                Hamid uses the image of the Janissary to illustrate his view of the character's struggle in America via Juan Batista. The Janissaries were an elite militia/bodyguard of the Sultan in the ottoman empire and earlier periods in middle east history. The group was largely composed of young Christian slaves who had been taken in childhood (and in many cases offered by parents for economic reasons,) to serve in this highly trained and fundamental force in the empire. Janissaries were trained in Islamic praxis though they were Christian and swore loyalty to the Sultan. Contrary to popular belief, many did not truly abandon their cultural heritage in their new surroundings but maintained them secretly, or syncretized (blended the distinct ideas together.) I must say that the imagery Hamid uses of the Janissary works quite well, but the struggle that Changez faces seemsmore steep, as we are not able in the book to see a reconciliation, a purpose, or a peaceful resolution to the opposing sentiments of Changez in a clear manner. I believe this is Mosin Hamid's intention.

                To spur us, the reader, to a new understanding through the story of Changez. Hamid wishes us to experience the sense of Dual identity that many people have felt since September 11th. As the author points out, Changez is anything but happy because he sees Ericka (America) gone insane over here sense of Nostalgia, and longing for the good ole days. He himself experiences this though I don't see Changez as aware that he is doing it. He feels tied by the recent climate in America to his home country, but sees the benefits of his life in America and gets lost between the two. I myself have experienced a sense of dual identity and struggle in my studies of History and Comparative Religion, and also with the fact  that I have middle eastern heritage.

                This is the point. There are levels of connection between various worldviews, hopes, cultures, etc. that we all lose sight of when we get caught up in our own lives. Some people I have met assume I have Scottish and German ancestry exclusively, and so on occasion make offensive assumptions that need correction. I know it isn't intentional, but I sometimes say: "don't assume that there is something separating you from people in other cultures, this country is built on many, and in ways it often doesn't remember."        

                  The author's intent seems to be to emphasize that we get caught in the folly of our own assumptions, our own fundamentals, or we get caught in the assumptions and struggles of others and can't dig ourselves out making a dual identity. In the end we tire of the struggle and choose a side, but sometimes we realize the real point. The beauty of the book, and of life is in the struggle itself. We all live lives of intricate patterns of interaction and experience, and it is learning how to cope, but also how to incorporate these experiences into something utterly unique. For myself, I love the fact that I study different world religions, because I see poetic interconnection, historical irony, and all the elements of drama therein and see a poetry of life and wisdom. When it comes to my heritage, I laugh at the fact that many things prominent inAmerican society owe their origin, or even their preservation to the near east region. To me this is something to relish as a common bond. It would be amazing to see the "Clash of civilization" model die out, and see rather two genres or flavors of the same phenomenon. I recommend that everyone read the reluctant fundamentalist.

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