The Reluctant Fundamentalist's American Dream

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“Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change” (Hamid 96). In the book The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid portrays a young international student from Pakistan named Changez. Changez comes to the United States to fulfill the American dream, but America is about to let Changez down. He starts with every immigrant’s interpretation of the American dream: get rich and be able to provide for their family. Later, he changes his perspective briefly to America being a possible escape from Pakistan, and lastly shifts his perspective of the American dream to the pursuit of love. The American dream fails for Changez: he loses his job, gets deported back to Pakistan, and the woman he loves meets a tragic end.

Changez has many downfalls during his time here in America, but the one that sets the stage for all the rest starts with Erica. Changez and Erica meet while on a college trip to Greece. Though they don’t get much time alone together, there is a sense of chemistry that starts to develop, “I looked at Erica and she looked back at me, I felt we both understood that something had been exchanged between us” (20) Erica had lived in New York City all her life, a quality that Changez found interesting due to the nature of constantly-changing America. Her family was quite wealthy and lived in a penthouse apartment. Erica’s father does what most Americans do and assumes Pakistan is only what he sees on the evening news: “Economy’s falling apart though, no? Corruption, dictatorship, the rich living like princes while everyone else suffers” (55). Erica also finds herself able to confide in Changez quite easily, she tells him of her boyfriend that had passed away the year before. Erica always talks about he...

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...elieve it” (Carlin). The American dream is one thing George Carlin colorfully explains in his performance of Life Is Worth Losing. He explains how America and big businesses in America don’t care about the people. Changez resonates with this on his way to the airport, “America was engaged only in posturing ” (Hamid 167). Changez knows that the American dream had failed for him, despite all the work he put into it.

Works Cited

• Hamid, Mohsin. The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007. Print.

• Herd, Sandra. "Scorched by the Scourge of Post-9/11 Racism." Interview. NBC News. N.p., 2006. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.

• CHANDRA, ABHIMANYU. "Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid." The Yale Review of International Studies RSS. N.p., Aug. 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.

• Life Is Worth Losing. Dir. Rocco Urbisci. Perf. George Carlin. 2005. DVD.
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