Gender & Consumption - Final Paper
In Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Changez, the narrator, shares (through his experiences) the apparent differences in consumption in America verse Pakistan. Americans and Pakistanis have very different values. Changez at one point discusses how he had become sucked into the American way of life; he had become spoiled. He went to Princeton, and after graduation, obtained a job with the reputable company, Underwood Samson, earning a substantial salary for a recent college graduate. He lived in New York and was able to support himself on his own. His family, many generations back, had been wealthy. However, over the years their wealth had slowly declined. Upon Changez’s return to Lahore, his hometown, he enters the dwelling he grew up in and takes note of all the things that changed. Upon describing the deterioration and aging of his home, he realizes he had changed more than anything else; he had been living the life of luxury and started caring about things he never had before.
In the beginning of the book, Changez talks about a vacation he had taken with his fellow classmates. Throughout the vacation he observes the way they spend their money. He talks about how, to his american classmates, money seemed as though it was no issue. Changez thought to himself, “the ease with which they parted with money, for example, thinking nothing of the occasional--but not altogether infrequent--meal costing perhaps fifty dollars a head (Hamid 21).”
This shows how differently people in America view money compared to people from Changez’s hometown in Pakistan. His American classmates do not think twice about the price of their
meals. The way that money is spent in America verse Pakistan, in general, is very different.
Changez goes to a dinner party at Jim’s house, the one who had employed him. As soon as he walks in he takes note of the decor. “Each piece of furniture seemed perfectly curated--lit and positioned just so — and the walls featured impressive and forceful works of art... (Hamid 119),”
Changez notices as soon as he walks into the loft. Changez gets used to the way things in
America look, in America interior design tends to be very desirable. Upon his return home, he comments on the destruction of his house and on the way it had changed.
“...it occurred to me that the house had not changed in absence. I had changed; I was looking about me with the eyes of a foreigner, and not just any foreigner, but that particular type of entitled and unsympathetic American...“(Hamid 124), Changez says.
Changez’s observations highlight the differences between Americans and Pakistanis. He had only lived there for a short time, and even he had been influenced by the American ways.
In America, it is very common for people to buy and lease cars; often people will get a new car every few years. Cars to Pakistan, on the other hand, tend to be more of a luxury.
Changez talks about how his family had only one car, and how they had owned this car for many years. He talks of an incident where he is to run an errand before his grandmothers funeral, and his car ends up over heating; something it often does. He drove an old Toyota Corolla that had been in the family for many years. On his way to pick up flowers for the funeral the car dies, and he has to walk the rest of the way to the funeral in the hot sun. This shows that what tends to be important to Americans is not necessarily the same that tends to be important to people in other countries. Changez’s family is an example of this because they have the same car and home passed down from generation to generation. In Pakistan, while Changez is at the cafe with his
american guest, there is a blackout, and Changez says that this is quite common where he is from. In America where there is a lot of wealth, this doesn’t happen very often. His guest seems a little