Hybridity and Identity Crisis in "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid

Wissenschaftlicher Aufsatz, 2013

14 Seiten


Table of content

Author biography:


Research Questions:

Literature Review:






Author biography:

MISS Rabbia Rani is a student of English Language and Literature has been written four research papers and all of them are accepted in IJSELL AS WELL AS IJSSHR. Apart from this she has written some pieces of poetry. Rabbia Rani who hails from Phalia near Mandi Baha Uddin, studies at Sargodha University Mandi Bahauddin Campus. Her academic interests include Poetry, Drama, Communication skills Modern Literature and research. She participated in competition of writing research paper) and her paper was also accepted in International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature. She has also been invited to present the research paper at International Conference on Business, Social Science & Humanities to be held in Barcelona, Spain. She is also a good debater; her previous paper which is publish in India are available here; ISSN 2348-3156 (Print) International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research ISSN 2348-3164 (online) Vol. 5, Issue 1, pp: (69-77), Month: January - March 2017, Available at: www.researchpublish.com . Apart from this her 3 research paper are published in international research journal (jyotirmay research journal of education) .and online available on jyotirmay research journal of education. And awarded certificates.

Title: Hybridity and identity crisis in the Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid


This research paper is primarily concerned with the study of theoretical underpinning of post colonialism in The Reluctant Fundamentalist and it also traces the major concepts and terminology of post colonialism such as hybridity and identity crisis.It discusses that people face different oppositions, dilemmas, contradiction as well as challenges which threaten their identity in a foreign culture. Emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of postcolonial theory, the researcher investigates identity crisis which is presented in the novel and also highlights and interrogates that the identity is at risk due to cultural conflicts which results in the transformation of identity and ethnicity for the gains of the hegemony. To study the impacts of colonization the research has been planned to investigate the foremost concept of hybridity and quest for identity. The identity attained and maintained by the immigrant in his homeland is found to create problems for him in a new environment where the culture, traditions and life style is altogether different. The findings of this research throw light upon Homi K Bhabha's concept of hybridity and Erik Erikson theory of identity crisis which deprive the colonized of their basic rights and result in their sufferings. In addition, the present research also accentuates how colonization becomes a tool in the novel to expose the historical trajectory of post colonialism.

Research Questions:

What is identity crisis?

What is hybridity?

What is Homi Bhabha's concept of hybridity?

What is the role of identity crisis in the reluctant fundamentalist?

How identity crisis and hybridity become a tool to deprive the colonized?

Literature Review:

1. In his article “Identity Crisis in Pakistan”Muddasar Nazar wants to tackle about post 9 -11 situations.

The post-colonial state of Pakistan is faced with identity-related challenges, and is struggling to define its identity, particularly from the onset of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Parallel movements are running across the landscape of Pakistan, as some demand an Islamic state, some a multinational state, some fight for a secular one, and some a democratic Islamic republic, and if Islamic state, again beset with complexity as to what type of Islamic state — Shia or Sunni — Pakistan should be and to what degree. (Nazar 3)

This excerpt highlights the issue of division among various sections of society. There is a conflict between fundamentalism and liberalism. There is further diversity and division in these two groups. We see Pakistani Talibans, Punjabi Talibans, Shias, Sunnis, Seculars, Islamic liberals and so on. Every group disowns the others, depriving them of their identity as true Muslims or true Pakistanis. They are denied equality as Pakistani citizens.

2. Asghar in his article “The Identity Crisis of Pakistan” elaborates that, “We have divided and subdivided ourselves into so many class groups and categories ranging from religious, economic and geographic that it will require a complete overhaul to bring us remotely close to the ideals of Quaid.” (1)Those who migrate abroad to find meaning in their life; still fail to discover their true identity. This problem is beautifully depicted in modern Pakistani English literature.

3. Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph (April 18, 2007) finds the second novel of Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist more autobiographical than his first, and Moth Smoke. According to Sooke, as the “war on terror” continues, this is quite a relevant book, handled perfectly. It portrays the cancerous suspicions between the East and the West.

4. Trevor Lewis in The Observer (March 11, 2007) has commented upon The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Lewis finds Changez’s mixture of flattery and anger producing the fatal tension, between himself and his American companion and raising many questions. Hamid’s novel, in the opinion of Lewis, poses more questions than it answers, and gives the impression of a certain theatrical trick. According to Lewis, the book stimulates the mind and quickens the pulse as it overpowers the imagination.


To conduct the study, textual evidences and images are collected to explore and analyze the hybridity and identity crisis in the reluctant fundamentalist .The concept of hybridity taken up from the works of Pakistani writers, which describes that the forms of violence emerged from identity crisis and unequal distribution of wealth and power resources. The researcher investigates identity crisis and hybridity presented in the novel and also highlights that the identity is at risk due to cultural conflicts which results in the transformation of identity and ethnicity for the gains of the hegemony. To study the impacts of colonization the research has been planned to investigate the foremost concept of hybridity and identity crisis. This research paper also sheds light upon how self- realization and self-actualization can be achieved by hybridity .It is imminent to say that the colonizers have to show violent resistance towards the colonized to come out of subjugation and submissiveness. As Edward Bond , an English playwright in the preface of his play ‘’three just men says that “an injustice is like a pebble in the center of the ocean when the ripples reach the shores they have turned into tidal waves that drown cities (8 preface)


The focus of this research paper is to stimulate as well as evoke the study of theoretical underpinning of hybridity and identity crisis in The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. In addition, the research also draws upon Homi K Bhabhas's concept of hybridity to trace their connection .The findings of this research throw light upon the interwoven pattern of hybridity and identity crisis. Thus, novelists exposed and expressed the conditions of identity Crises that emerged in postcolonial period. According to Oxford English dictionary; identity is defined as “The identification of an individual or a group or a nation in postcolonial terms as one notice easily is linked to the "other", that means they recognize themselves "us" with the existence of the "other". Otherness is a feature to recognize identity in postcolonial era in which also means it is twofold, "both identity and difference, so that every other, every different than and excluded by is dialectically created and includes the values and meaning of the colonizing culture even as it rejects its power to define" (Sinha, 4).

The famous psychologist, Erik Erikson who is attributed to have coined the term ‘identity Crisis’, defines identity as,"...a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image. As a quality of unself-conscious living, this can be gloriously obvious in a young person who has found himself as he has found his communality. In him we see emerge a unique unification of what is irreversibly given--that is, body type and temperament, giftedness and vulnerability, infantile models and acquired ideals--with the open choices provided in available roles, occupational possibilities, values offered, mentors met, friendships made, and first encounters." (Erikson1970).

As is apparent from Erikson’s description, identity has many factors contributing to its Development and these factors differ from individual to individual. Identity crisis on the other hand, originates for an immigrant when his original identity obtained from his homeland, clashes with demands of a new identity in the new land.

Hybridity is a cross between two separate races, plants or cultures. A hybrid is something that is mixed, and hybridity is simply mixture. Hybridity is not a new cultural or historical phenomenon. It has been a feature of all civilizations since time immemorial, from the Sumerians through the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the present.


The very title of Hamid’s novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist making use of both words fundamentalist” and “reluctant” together, stands evidence to the phenomenon of identity crisis being the main story of the novel. As fundamentalist is the one who believes in fundamentalism i.e. he understands every word of his sacred book to be the literal truth and reluctant shows the reluctance in achieving the position of a fundamentalist. The cover page of the book in the Oxford paperback edition is also very telling. It shows two different halves of one face. It is the face of a Pakistani that wears traditional tribal garb at one side and has a long beard with the picture of a mosque in the background. On the other side is a clean shaven face with sun glasses, cars and sky scrapers making up the background. This cover design gives the reader a glimpse of what to expect in the novel. Although different cover designs compliment the novel in different countries, yet they all convey more or less the same idea.

The hybrid nature, of Pakistani culture and identity is portrayed by Hamid in the novel. Changez tells the American that Pakistanis are not extremists and narrow-minded. Changez particularly points out that Pakistani girl from National College of Arts wear T-shirts and jeans, to reflect the flexible cultural attitude of the people of Pakistan (13).This shows the obsession of Pakistani culture and individuals for American culture. These Pakistani girls wear T- shirts and jeans in mimicry of American culture.

At the symbolic level Erica stands for the American culture, Therefore, Hamid points his finger at the American culture for its negative impact upon individuals. Living in the past is not the only fault of Erica and America. Hamid shows that American culture suffers from very serious malaise. He shows that American individuals, the society and the government are guilty of displaying The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Changez recognizes the American, in Lahore, not by the color of his skin, dress or fashion and style but by his bearing. “Instead, it was your bearing that allowed me identify you” (1).

Sidhwa in her novel, (An American Brat, 174) also portrays an American with the same arrogant attitude. Hamid makes it clear that it is the “bearing” or the neo-colonial role of America around

The world has bred tension between American and Pakistani individuals and culture.

Erica is a metaphor for American culture and colonialist ideology. Chris stands for the American determination to stick to its cultural, historical and ideological past. This attitude is responsible for the present love- hate relationship between the American and Pakistani cultures. Hamid focuses upon the issues of identity-crisis of the people from countries like Pakistan and the resultant shame and anguish (89), who experience attraction and repulsion towards American culture simultaneously.

Mohsin Hamid, a postcolonial Pakistani writer, has tackled the issues of identity in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. These result from the interaction among Erica, a white American woman, Changez, a Pakistani Muslim and Chris, an ex-boyfriend of Erica in the background, and also due to larger political and cultural factors. Hamid believes in the intertwined nature of the personal and the political (Hamish Hamilton, 2007). Erica and Changez, at one level, stand for their respective cultures and countries. Hamid handles these issues from the perspective of the so called subaltern culture and therefore writes back to the empire. He conveys to America, the present neo-colonial power, through Changez, the protagonist of the novel, that everything is not perfect with its culture and policies. Changez assimilates American culture, and falls passionately in love with Erica. Assimilation is another characteristic of his identity

-I attempted to act and speak, as much as my dignity would permit, more
-Like an American. The Filipinos we worked with seemed to look up to
-My American colleagues, accepting them almost instinctively as members
-Of the officer class of global business-and I wanted my share of that respect
-As well. (65)

Hamid further shows that cultures and countries like Pakistan are not the only culprits for breeding extremism and intolerance. Hamid projects the glorious past civilization of this area, with the objective to convey that the culture and civilization of present day Pakistan is not lesser to that of American culture. Through Changez he presents the perception about America and its role in the global politics and affairs from the perspective of cultures designated and treated as lesser and inferior. Hamid further shows that the neo-colonial attitude and conduct of America breeds hatred for it around the world and is against its own interests.

Hamid points his finger at America and American society and shows that everything is not perfect with it. He identifies the problems and flaws of the American culture. In the context of colonizer and colonized equation, as there is a gap between rich and poor , the superior and the inferior, the commoner and aristocrat, hegemony and subaltern, the colonized and the colonizers possess similar sort of relation. These are contradictory concept presented in post colonialism to the present day. Colonizers are consider as light, knowledge and sumptuous. On the other hand, colonized are consider as darkness, inferior and ignorent.it is clear that light overcomes the darkness. In darkness, stars shine but when light comes, darkness goes off.


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Hybridity and Identity Crisis in "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
hybridity, identity, crisis, reluctant, fundamentalist, mohsin, hamid
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Rabbia Rani (Autor:in), 2013, Hybridity and Identity Crisis in "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/996756


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