The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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Now a major motion picture

“One of those achingly assured novels that makes you happy to be a reader.” —Junot Diaz

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter . . .

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

“Brief, charming, and quietly furious . . . a resounding success.” —Village Voice

A Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

A New York Times Notable Book
Curriculet Details
33 Questions
26 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 11th and 12th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining point of view, cultural perspective and the unique structure of a frame narrative. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about motifs and conflict. Over the course of the book, students will explore the themes of identity and the American Dream, and they will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of character development and literary techniques. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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This text is written in second person point of view. This is an uncommon choice. You will notice that in second person point of view, the narrator talks directly to you as though you are in the story. Moreover, the story provides a look into another culture and perspective. Watch this video to learn more about point of view and cultural perspective.  (This annotation contains a video)
Reread the lines: "Princeton inspired in me the feeling that my life was a film in which I was the star and everything was possible. I have access to this beautiful campus, I thought, to professors who are titans in their fields and fellow students who are philosopher-kings in the making." Describe the narrator's tone and outlook on his initial arrival in America.  
Here, we see the author switch between first and second person point of view. As you continue reading, consider what the change in style brings to the story.  
Changez's motivation for achieving academic and economic success while in America is driven by which of the following? 
The author, Mohsin Hamid, wrote this novel using a very unique structure. As you have already noticed, he switches between the past and present and between first and second person point of views. Watch this video to learn more about structure and continue to notice the stylistic choices of Hamid.  (This annotation contains a video)


Juxtaposition is a literary technique in which an author places two things, ideas, or characters close together for the purpose of comparing and contrasting. Consider how the author juxtaposes Changez and his classmates.  
The simile, "Her hair was piled up like a tiara on her head," is intended to ____________. 
Though she considers it impossible, what does Erica long to do? 
The narrator alludes to Mr. Palomar, a novel written by Italo Calvino. Skim this article to learn more about the connection Changez feels to the character, Mr. Palomar, and as you continue reading, look for other similarities between the two men.  (This annotation contains a link)
What happened to Chris? 


Notice how Mohsin Hamid begins and ends each chapter with an interaction between Changez and the American. This switch out of the previous storyline creates a frame narrative. A frame narrative is a literary technique which adds an additional story to the main narrative. In this case, the frame narrative provides the background information needed to fully understand Changez's motivations. 
The highlighted text is an example of foreshadowing. Watch the video below to learn more about foreshadowing. As you continue reading, look for more examples of foreshadowing and use them to make predictions about what will happen later in the story. (This annotation contains a video)
Here, we see the narrator juxtaposing his home country with that of America and specifically, New York City. As the story continues, consider the differences described and how these differences affect Changez's mentality, motivations, and relationships. 
As you know, the author creates a frame narrative when he switches into present time, using second person point of view. When the switches into the past and the narrative describes his experiences at Princeton and with Underwood Samson, it is called the embedded narrative. As you continue reading, consider how the inclusion of the frame narrative, combined with the embedded narrative enhances the overall meaning of the novel. 
Changez considers Wainwright a _______. 
The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scot Fitzgerald. Watch the preview of the 2013 movie based on the book to understand the magnificence our narrator experiences when at Jim's house. Also, consider what this allusion conveys regarding the identity of Changez.  (This annotation contains a video)
The line, "How soon that would change! My world would be transformed, just as this market around us has been," is an example of which literary technique? 


Please create a sentence using the word prosaic.   
The narrator's story about his scar includes which of the following literary devices? 
In your own words, please explain the narrator's motivation for not asking Erica about her brokenness.  
The Adventures of Tintin is a popular comic book series created by a Belgian artist. Use the images shown here to understand the style of Chris's sketch.  (This annotation contains an image)
Fundamentalism is a type of religion which practices the belief of strict, literal interpretation of the scripture. Usually fundamentalism is associated with Islam and Protestant Christianity. Look for references to fundamentalism and fundamentals, in general, to be woven throughout this story. Consider what themes these references play into. 
Imagine yourself in a new city which, like Lahore, is much different than the city you are from. Would you share a similar reaction to the American when the power goes out? What about the loss of power would evoke fear inside of you? 
Quiz 1: Chapter 1-4 


Here is a picture of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  (This annotation contains an image)
Although Changez takes pride in his work, he feels the job requires he act like an American. He is struggling to find and be true to his identity.  
The line, "Nostalgia was their crack cocaine," is an example of which type of figurative language? 
Here, Changez refers to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Consider your reaction to his confession of smiling upon hearing the horrifying news.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain Changez's motivation to smile while learning of the attack on the twin towers.  
What causes Changez to feel stiff and self-conscious as he returns to New York? 
The September 11 terrorist attack appears to be a catalyst for change in Changez's life. Already, we see that the event causes him to be looked at and treated differently while in New York, and his reaction to the attack itself does not align with those around him. 


Changez's reaction to 9/11 and its effect on America allows us to see the cultural perspective of a foreigner living within the country. How does his view differ from your own reaction to a terrorist attack on America's soil? 
Describe Erica's background, her lifestyle, and the relationship she currently has with Changez. 


Before you continue reading, watch this movie trailer for the 2013 movie based on this novel. Though different from the book in several ways, using the images and information the preview provides helps the reader understand the story's tone and the crumbling notion of Changez's American Dream.  (This annotation contains a video)
After 9/11, discrimination against Muslims was reported to increase throughout America, much like Changez's account. Read this essay by a female Muslim living in the States which explains her feelings and struggles growing up Muslim in America.  (This annotation contains a link)
In the line, "Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change," Jim is offering Changez some advice. Look for this advice to become a theme woven throughout the book. Watch this video on theme to learn more about its role in a piece of literature.  (This annotation contains a video)
"The economy's an animal," is an example of which type of literary device?  
Do you agree with the Changez's opinion on the media's portrayal of the war? To answer the question, please use Changez description, your background knowledge, and connections to current media coverage. 
The word "fundamentals" repeats several times throughout the novel making it a motif. Watch the following video on motif to learn more about this literary technique and consider what the author's use of "fundamentals" is intended to add to the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Using the line, "...surely I could not have known what would happen to her later in the weeks and months to follow," make a prediction about what may happen later in the book regarding Erica and her relationship with Changez. Please also label the literary technique used to help us make a prediction. 


Erica is having a hard time as she continues to deal with her feelings surrounding the loss of Chris. Consider how Erica's fractured identity and breakdown mimics that of changes occurring in America post 9/11.  
Erica's disappearance into nostalgia most likely reminds Changez of which of the following? 
Explain why the encounter between himself and the man is especially alarming and upsetting to Changez?  
Mostly, Changez is scared of what happening? 
Quiz 2: Chapter 5-8 


Throughout the story, we see Changez struggle with being an outsider and finding his identity. Even when returning home, he realizes that things have changed, both physically and emotionally, in his home country, and he must continue searching for a place to fully belong.  
Considering the story and Changez's desire to achieve his American Dream, what might his parents be protecting him from? Explain using details from the text. 
Changez is experiencing an internal conflict. He is struggling with staying in Pakistan with his family or going back to America and continuing to feel even further segregated from his roots and colleagues. Watch this video on conflict and as you continue reading, look for this conflict to develop and become resolved.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why is returning to the United States a difficult transition for Changez? 


This paragraph suggests that Changez and the American are not meeting casually as local and visitor, but for a much greater cause. Make a prediction regarding why Changez and the American are meeting. Support your prediction with examples from the story.  
Please explain Changez's outlook on America's role in the tensions between Pakistan and India.  
Why do you think Juan-Bautista tells the story about the janissaries to Changez? What might be his intended effect?  
Throughout the story, Changez often shares memories from his childhood and growing up in Pakistan. Consider the significance of Juan-Bautista's story of the janissaries and his statement regarding unforgettable memories.  
What is the final catalyst for Changez's great change? 
Changez reveals he will take what action in regards to his job at Underwood Samson? 


Which of the following words best describe Jim? 
What is ironic about the storyline of Erica's manuscript?  


Reread the highlighted text. Changez's explanation creates a dark, unpleasant, tense mood within the text. As you read this last chapter, consider who this American is and what business he has with Changez.  
The reference to Ichabod Crane from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is what type of literary technique?  
Though he made the choice to return to Pakistan, Changez still cannot completely disengage from America. Here is a music video for the song, "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. As you watch, connect the lyrics to the feelings and thoughts of Changez now that he has left New York and is living in Lahore.  (This annotation contains a video)
Consider the idea that Changez made an attempt to stop America. Briefly describe an inference you can make regarding what he may have done and what role the American plays in this act or in the aftermath of the act.  
Quiz 3: Chapter 9-12