The Issue of Hybridity in the Reluctant Fundamentalist
In search of better living, globalization has led to massive immigration from the global south to the global north each year. In addition, conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have compelled individuals to travel to Europe and North America to seek refuge and better opportunities for themselves and their children. When these immigrants arrive on the borders of Europe or the United States, they typically carry their cultures, conventions, and ways of life with them. This immigration results in either differentiation, assimilation, or hybridization. In some instances, immigrants either reject the foreign culture in its entirety or integrate into it and accept it as their own. When hybridization occurs, however, immigrants do not entirely lose their identity but rather absorb specific characteristics of the foreign culture into their own to establish a hybrid identity. For a person who assumes a hybrid identity, postcolonial scholars have developed the term “glocal” (a combination of local and global) to illustrate the clash between local and global identities.
Because colonisation aided in the formation of hybrid identities, postcolonial studies usually address the question of hybrid identity. The colonizers took their culture and way of life with them and then imposed it upon the colonized or educated them to adopt western culture and standards. It caused a conflict between western and eastern identities.
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid is the subject of this essay, which examines the protagonist’s conflicting feelings about being both a Pakistani and an American. The protagonist, Changez, is a Pakistani immigrant who attends Princeton University and then joins a New York valuation firm, Underwood Sampson. As Changez tries to find a middle ground between his Western and Eastern identities, the topic is being addressed from a postcolonial viewpoint.
Homi K. Bhabha coined the term hybridity, which refers to the cultural blending of the West and the East. Homi K. Bhabha discusses the interaction between the coloniser and the colonized, which results in the blending of the two cultures and so creates an in-between space. Based on this theory, we can explain the concept of hybridity. After graduating from an American university, Changez Khan joins Underwood Sampson. He is having a great time in New York, where he is enjoying life. He has a fantastic job, a girlfriend he adores, and buddies with whom he travels to Greece. Changez attempts to adopt the American way of life and acts as an American in order to blend into society. He begins to adopt the perspective and conduct of the other culture. Just as in Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe, Friday begins to learn English, the words of God and gradually becomes civilized by adopting Crusoe’s behavior; Changez begins to imitate American social standards, behavior, and culture. He believes himself to be a New Yorker. He acknowledges his place within the American culture. He adores the place he resides and the way of life, he has adopted.
Additionally, the city embraces him with open arms. In the novel, he states that arriving in New York unexpectedly felt like returning home. In another passage, he says that In four and a half years, he was never an American; he was instantly a New Yorker. There are instances throughout the text in which he identifies as an American. For example, when he travels to Manila, he attempts to speak and act like an American, but he quickly recognizes that he will never be treated similarly to white Americans. Being a Pakistani is a part of his identity that he cannot abandon. He is conscious that he will always remain the “other” regardless of how much he tries.
Throughout the narrative, he is haunted by a sense of alienation and otherness. He will not be able to escape it. As a result, he adopts a multifaceted persona. He is constantly being reminded of his heritage.
He chuckles a little in the wake of the Twin Towers’ devastation. No, he is not cruel because he is a sadist, but rather because modern American society has not accepted him. That someone has brought the United States to its knees in such a visible way gives him a feeling of satisfaction.
As for Erica, he can only have her briefly by pretending to be Chris and giving up his identity as Changez for a few minutes. He cannot have her if he does not change himself first. Because of this, he wants her to refer to him as Chris when they spend the night together. In the same way that he is unsure of where he belongs, he can switch between Changez and Chris to get closer to his girlfriend. Hybrid identity holders find it easier to transition into another persona. He does not have a solid foundation. Because he does not know if he belongs in New York or Lahore, or both, or neither, He has nothing to offer her when she asks for help. This is probably why he has been eager to attempt to take on the persona of Chris, given how fragile his own identity is. It is evident from his words that he has been having identity issues. When he is having fun in the city, he transforms into an American. Because of this, when confronted with racial profiling, he becomes protective of his Eastern heritage. It gets simpler for him to assume the character of Chris because he has become adept at switching between multiple identities up to the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.
After the September 11th attacks, he was subjected to heightened suspicion and hostility because of his Muslim and Eastern European heritage. Because of this, he is highly irritated by the American perception of Muslims as religious fanatics and backward people. America becomes a source of evil for him, and himself a an agent of this Empire, which has been established by pillaging nations like his own.
After 9/11, it becomes more difficult for him to live in New York as a Muslim and an Easterner. Pakistan is where he goes to see his family, and his anger at the United States for cooperating with India against his homeland is palpable. However, he also does not feel completely Pakistani. While in Chile on business, he encounters Juan-Batista, who compares Changez to the janissaries, Christian lads who were drafted into the Turkish military to serve as the Sultan’s guard and were forced to fight against their own culture and civilization. This analogy resonates with him because he feels as if he is contributing to the wealth of the United States at the expense of his native land. As he contemplates the destitution of his native country, he grows increasingly disillusioned with his life in the United States. He no longer enjoys life as much as he once did.
Initially unconcerned about what was occurring in Pakistan, Changez soon finds himself increasingly self-conscious about his heritage as a Pakistani. He becomes aware of the necessity of defining his identity. To be an American, he would have to give up his otherness, which is impossible, just as he cannot have Erica by being his true self. Because of the insults and discrimination, he is subjected to, he is outraged. The racial profiling has prompted him to grow a beard.
Discrimination following the September 11th attacks reinforces his Eastern identity. He finds it impossible to fit in and defend a society that treats him so poorly because of his appearance and skin color. Because of his people’s inequities here in the United States, he is furious. His Eastern identity deepened with each passing day. As he distances himself from his American personality, his Pakistani identity begins to emerge. He feels like he has been lost in the woods when he goes to Lahore. After a long search, he has finally found himself. He becomes more vociferous in his defense of his native land, religion, language, and culture. He appears to have awakened from a long slumber. The individual who prided himself on being an American has turned against the American political system and how the United States governs itself internationally. It is clear to him that he has never been a fan of how the United States has conducted itself on the global stage.
Changez entirely loses his American identity at the end of the novel. Instead, he returns to his native nation and begins a career as a lecturer. As a result, he becomes a vocal critic of official American policy. Whether he has turned fundamentalist is impossible to state with certainty, but undoubtedly, he has become an anti-American.
About Author: The article was published by Asif Abbas. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org