The ending of the novel is an unsatisfactory conclusion for the reader. Discuss.
The true purpose of Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is difficult to ascertain. It is this difficulty though that makes it a satisfying narrative even for those expecting a traditional conclusion which does not eventuate. By using a framed narrative, Hamid consciously leaves the reader with an open ending, as a traditional conclusion would neither have been as appropriate or as successful. The reader is instead encouraged to consider the story in its wider post 9/11 context and specifically to see Hamid’s purpose in trapping us in our own assumptions and prejudices.
Hamid engages the reader to want a resolution by creating suspense throughout Changez’s monologue. The reader begins to expect that this “night of some importance” will end with some grand revelation as to the true nature of the American’s “purpose” or what Changez “resolved to do” to stop America “as best I could.” That Hamid routinely leads the reader to assume the worst about both the narrator and his American listener adds to the suspense since it is never clear who Changez really is. He admits he is “prone to exaggeration” and appears over eager to accommodate his guest who “at least appears to know something” about him. This build up towards the eventual climax which never eventuates could prove unsatisfying.
The arc of Hamid’s story foreshadows a violent confrontation with either the American or Changez potentially revealed as the true predator or prey. Hamid establishes that Changez was a willing participant in the meritocracy and economic fundamentalism advocated by Underwood Samson and the USA as a whole. So desperate is Changez to achieve success that he “acts, as much as my dignity would permit, more like an American.” By silencing the American voice, Hamid forces the reader to consider all that Changez is subjected to post-9/11. Having been separated at airports and shunned...