Chapter 8: The Reluctant Fundamentalist Am-Erica moves out of Changez’s reach and is consumed by nostalgia. Changez excels in his work for U.S. and takes a trip home to Pakistan.
Chapter 8: Erica • Erica’s mother informs C that Erica’s condition has returned and she needs a friend, rather than a boyfriend. She has stopped writing and is on medication. • C is disturbed by his conversation with E; he feels like he is intruding on a conversation E is having with Chris, and which he cannot understand. • Erica is “disappearing into a powerful nostalgia, one from which only she could choose whether or not to return”. (p. 129)
Chapter 8: Erica • Erica’s despair is all-encompassing: “It’s whether there’s something left,” she explained, suddenly and unsettlingly calm, “or whether it’s already happened.” (p.127) • The connection they had previously enjoyed is now lost: “I watched our skin...separated by a distance no greater than the width of an engagement ring, but she did not notice me. I waited for my proximity to make itself felt to her; a minute passed in this fashion.” (p.127)
Chapter 8: Erica • Erica is like an ‘addiction’ (p. 130). C clings to an irrational hope, and feels increased anger and hurt (that of a ‘spurned lover) at her rejection. • Changez “never came to know what triggered her decline” (p.129) • C observes that America is also ‘giving itself over to a dangerous nostalgia’. (p. 130)
Chapter 8: Impermanence and mortality • “In all likelihood, she longed for a time before his cancer made her aware of impermanence and mortality” (p.129)
Chapter 8: The American • The American’s ‘unusual’ phone beeps precisely on the hour • At the conclusion of this chapter, C reassures the American “that there is nothing to fear” (p.139). He says this in reference to the food they have ordered, and tastes it first, to further reassure the American.
Chapter 8: Economic fundamentalism • Underwood Sampson (U.S.) did not encourage nostalgia: ‘at work we went about the task of shaping the future with little regard for the past’ (p. 132) • At this point, C believes that he was ‘never better at the pursuit of fundamentals’. (p. 132), pursuing all that was ‘quantifiable and knowable’ in the post-9/11 uncertainty. He was ‘analyzing data as though my life depended on it’ (p.132)
Chapter 8: Racism and racial profiling • C is rattled by the incident in the New Jersey car-park (p. 134) when a man calls him a ‘F***ing Arab’ – C’s response is to take a crowbar from the boot of his car and feels capable of ‘wielding it with sufficient violence to shatter the bones of his skull.’ (p. 134) • Wainwright warns C that US will have to make some cutbacks and this arouses some uncertainty in C – that his being a Muslim will affect his employment. However, he is once again ranked first in the company and receives a bonus.
Chapter 8: The Unreliable Narrator • C cannot remember all of the details of his story about the racist encounter in the New Jersey carpark, which brings his reliability into question: “I am after all, telling you a history, and in history, as I suspect you – as an American – will agree, it is the thrust of one’s narrative that counts, not the accuracy of one’s details.” (p.135)
Chapter 8: Changez’s journey • C uses his bonus to take a trip back home to Pakistan, despite his parents’ concerns • He, too, is concerned about the possibility of impending war in Pakistan
Practice essay task – due Monday Write a 3+-page essay in response to one of the following topics: The fate of both Erica and Changes is the same in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. To what extent do you agree? The ending of the novel is an unsatisfactory conclusion for the reader. Do you agree? See worksheet for suggested approaches.