The Reluctant Fundamentalist discussion

Book discussion.
Our goals for the lesson is to analyse some quotes from the book "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", discuss them and through this get a better understanding of the book.
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Slide 1: Slide
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This lesson contains 21 slides, with interactive quizzes and text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 50 min

Items in this lesson

Book discussion.
Our goals for the lesson is to analyse some quotes from the book "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", discuss them and through this get a better understanding of the book.

Slide 1 - Slide

What do you think is fundamentalism?

Slide 2 - Mind map

What is fundamentalism?

Slide 3 - Slide

During his successful life in America Changez says this:
I suspected my Pakistaniness was invisible, cloaked by my suit, by my expense account.

Changez, Chapter 5

Slide 4 - Slide

What does he mean by that? What was he trying to do or what does he imply about himself?

Slide 5 - Open question

In his early days at Underwood Samson, Changez wants to fit in with his white coworkers—to be identified as a successful American. Here he is relying on the most superficial appearances and perks of his job to try to convince himself that his true identity is that of a white American financier. He deludes himself into believing that the trappings of white "Americanness" make his true identity as a dark-skinned Pakistani invisible to others, whom he believes would see him and treat him as one of their own.

Slide 6 - Slide

After 9/11 happened:
I was pleased ... that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees.
Changez, Chapter 5

Slide 7 - Slide

What did he mean? What feelings did he convey?

Slide 8 - Open question

In this pivotal moment, Changez is surprised by the pleasure he gets from seeing the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. As he explains later, he hates violence and bloodshed, so it's not the carnage that pleases him. He's pleased that a hubristic America has gotten what it deserved. Its self-identity as untouchable and all-powerful is shattered by the attack.

Slide 9 - Slide

After 9/11 Changez grew a beard. It had a meaning to him, even though other people started to look at him strangely.
[The beard] was, perhaps, a form of protest ... a symbol of my identity.
Changez, Chapter 9

Slide 10 - Slide

What did the beard symbolyze for him?

Slide 11 - Open question

After his visit to Lahore and his anger at the threat of war between India and Pakistan, Changez decides to flaunt his Pakistani identity.
This quote reveals the motive for keeping his beard at work, a bastion of clean-cut American whiteness. Changez is willing, even eager, to attract hostility from his coworkers and the public because such attitudes confirm his assessment of Muslim stereotyping. The beard symbolizes Changez's Pakistani identity but also signals the threat of violence and provokes fear in Americans who assume all Muslim men with beards are terrorists.

Slide 12 - Slide

Wainwright approaches him about his beard and asks him to consider getting rid of it.
You need to be careful. This whole corporate collegiality veneer only goes so deep.
Wainwright, Chapter 9

Slide 13 - Slide

What does Wainwright mean? What can happen to Changez?

Slide 14 - Open question

Wainwright understands Changez is growing his beard to provoke his colleagues and to exhibit pride in his ethnicity. Yet Wainwright reminds Changez that although the firm may have given him a good job, beneath the veneer of tolerance lies a core of American racism.


Wainwright, who is also nonwhite, wants to keep his job. He warns Changez that he risks losing his job because Underwood Samson will not tolerate such "non-American" ethnic pride. The quote implies that, as in much of America, tolerance is a facade barely hiding the intolerance at the core.

Slide 15 - Slide

Why is Changez a fundamentalist and why is he reluctant?

Slide 16 - Open question

Two Types of Fundamentalism
When Westerners think of fundamentalism they usually think of Islamic fundamentalism, often with terrorist tendencies. However, fundamentalism may take other forms. What different types of fundamentalism have in common is their strict adherence to the inerrancy, the absolute truth, of their belief or belief system. Just as Islamic fundamentalists believe in the inerrancy of the Quran, the Islamic holy text, so Christian fundamentalists believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Yet all fundamentalisms are not religious.

Slide 17 - Slide

Two types of fundamentalism according to the extract?

Slide 18 - Open question

This novel portrays the American capitalist economic system as a type of fundamentalism: market fundamentalism. Adherents to western market fundamentalism fully believe in its capitalist principles and the necessity of free markets to perfect the capitalist model. Market fundamentalism assigns value almost exclusively to generating a profit by whatever means necessary, without considering the potential consequences. Its fundamental value is money and, by extension, wealth. Just as religious fundamentalists reject alterations to or nonorthodox interpretations of their religious texts, market fundamentalists fight against any restrictions, such as regulations or laws, that impinge on markets and reduce monetary returns.

Slide 19 - Slide

Why is the American economy system also a fundamentalism?

Slide 20 - Open question

Changez as a fundamentalist
In the novel Changez is torn between these two types of fundamentalism. He's not an orthodox, let alone militant, religious fundamentalist, for his fundamentalism is more closely related to Pakistani tradition and identity. However, his ambitions have immersed him in a world governed by market fundamentalism. Various events in the novel, such as the 9/11 attacks, bring Changez's identity as a Pakistani Muslim into direct conflict with his role as a purveyor, or servant, of market fundamentalism. How and why Changez resolves these conflicting fundamentalisms shape the novel.

Slide 21 - Slide