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Summary of The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, Chapter-wise Analysis

                                                                         Mohsin Hamid

Chapter 1

This chapter basically gives us the introduction of the main character Changez and the company Underwood Samson in which he worked. The chapter starts with a mention of an American guest who is welcomed by Changez. This unnamed man is greeted in the streets of Lahore and recognized by Changez, a graduate of Princeton University, as an American because of his bearing presence "it was your bearing that allowed me to identify you".

Changez warm-heartedly welcomes this suspicious guest and takes him to a nearby café where he tells the stranger about his experiences in America where he spends four and a half years of his life. Firstly, he tells the stranger about his background and his stay at Princeton University. In Pakistan also Changez was a bright student with good academic qualifications. He had come to America to attend the prestigious Princeton University which for him became a symbol of exoticness. 

Secondly, he shares his experience in getting a job at Underwood Samson. This prestigious value firm uses to determine the worth of different businesses in a precise manner. Changez was also selected for an interview in this valuing firm. He was interviewed by Jim, an executive vice president at the firm. Jim being a Princeton graduate and a person belonging to a humble background gives him a job because of Changhez's financial aid and his knowledge in the field of stocks. 

Chapter 2

This chapter gives a picture of a detailed encounter between Changez and Erica. The chapter starts with Changez questioning the stranger about his love whom he had left behind. Changez then tells him about Erica, a beautiful Princeton graduate who had smitten Changez at first sight. 

He meets Erica on a vacation to Greece with a Princeton graduate and tries numerous times to get close to her. She is the first one who asks Changez about his hometown and his family which develops a soft corner in his heart for her. In his tour to Greece, he observed the unrefined behavior of the Americans towards the Greeks. 

They treated them as "though they were its ruling class" which annoyed Changez. Another important incident that happened in this chapter is the encounter of Erica and Changez on the beach. Changez observes many of his female peers in Princeton topless enjoying the sunbathing. 

He observes Erica and tried to have a conversation with her. Chris, the former boyfriend and childhood friend of Erica is also introduced in this chapter, and for Erica, he is her home whom she dearly misses.

Chapter 3

 This chapter highlights the cosmopolitan nature of New York and how Changez wins over his superiors and peers at the Underwood Samson. This chapter starts with Changez introducing Pakistan to the foreigner. He gives a vivid picture of Lahore where the police are unable to capture boys on a motor scooter and the old Anarkali bazaar is transforming into a pedestrian porch as the night approaches. 

He presents a comparison between America and Pakistan and highlights how the people of the Indus River basin were civilized even before the being of America but due to technological advancements in America, even the budget of a university is greater than the whole educational budget of Pakistan. Changez also introduces Wainwright, a non-American team member of Changez at Underwood Samson who became his friend. 

The friendship developed and Changez even took Wainwright to a Pakistani restaurant where they enjoyed delicious Pakistani food. After this, a party was held in Jim's house in Hampton where the employees of Underwood Samson were invited. Even at that party, Changhez was lost in Erica's thoughts but soon his feelings of accomplishment as a New Yorker washed over him.

Chapter 4

This chapter deals with a number of encounters that took place between Erica and Changez which brought them closer. Changez soon after his trip to Greece was invited over to Erica's place for dinner. Changez goes to Erica's house dressed in a formal blazer with a feeling of familiarity and nervousness. 

He is welcomed by Erica who is dressed in casual clothing. She takes Changez to her room and shows him the manuscript that she had been preparing. Changez is greeted by Erica's parents and eats dinner with them. After some time, they both went to a party. They were invited by Erica's friend who hosted the party to celebrate the opening of a show. 

Erica was soon after surrounded by a group of people and according to Changez there was something remarkable about her as "she attracted people".  Changez and Erica started meeting frequently and he was invited by Erica to a picnic in Manila. Erica shares her experience in the hospitals after Chris's death and both come closer. Changez after his frequent meeting with Erica is haunted by Erica's thoughts.

Chapter 5

 This chapter deals with the drastic change in attitudes of people towards Muslims which Changez himself witnesses after the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Changez on a business trip in the Philippines notices the strange behavior of a driver who had an "undisguised hostility" in his gaze towards Changez. 

Changez was surprised to see such a change of attitude but was quite busy paying heed to these matters because of his first assignment in Manila. He used to converse with Erica through letters. On the last day of his tour, he gets to know about the collapse of the Twin Towers in America through the news. 

Surprisingly his initial reaction was "to be remarkably pleased". He was pleased that "someone had so visibly brought America to her knees". He soon returns to New York but is treated with hostility at the airport. He is detained at the airport because of his nationality. He then notices the discrimination in New York.

Chapter 6

This chapter deals with the mourning of the whole American nation in memory of the destruction of the Twin Towers. Erica, after 9/11 is traumatized. She begins to sink thinking about the incident of the Twin Tower which in fact reminded her of her previous lover Chris. Changez spends time with Erica in the hope of becoming close to Erica.

 Erica also tries to have a conversation with Changez and insists on talking about his home as according to Erica he becomes "alive" while talking about his home. Similarly, according to Changez, Erica becomes lively while talking about Chris. Erica most of the time according to Changez was "utterly detached, lost in a world of her own". Another important event in this chapter is the rejection of Changez to love her. 

She invited Changez to celebrate as she had got an agent who could help in publishing her manuscript. Changez and Erica conversed on different topics. Suddenly Erica told Changez about her taekwondo class and shows him her bruise. Changez could not restrain his animal instincts and tried to "conquer" her but her memories of Chris became a reason for her rejection of Changez as a lover.

Chapter 7

This chapter deals with the changing attitudes Changez observed in America and how he pretends to be Chris in order to conquer Erica. Changez after the incident of 9/11 observes the racial discrimination in the so-called cosmopolitan city of New York. 

He hears different tales regarding discrimination against Muslims in the business world. He observes the FBI raiding, Muslims disappearing, and dispatching to different countries. Amid this discrimination, Jim on numerous occasions advises Changez not to be affected by this situation. 

Changez observes many political events taking place including the invading of Afghanistan by the American troops which infuriated him. Changez in the meanwhile was not in contact with Erica for weeks until she invited him over for drinks. She tells Changez about her nostalgia for Chris which had disturbed her life again. 

While she was mentioning Chi and her love for him, Changez suddenly asks her to pretend that Changes is Chris "Pretend I am him". After becoming a persona of Chris he successfully sleeps with Erica.


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