Changez is the main character of the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Changez is a young Pakistani man in his twenties, who is, when we first meet him, living in New York.
Like the novel's author Mohsin Hamid, Changez is born in Lahore, and both studied at Princeton University, one of the more prestigious universities in the US. After completing his Bachelor's degree in finance, Changez joins consultancy firm Underwood Samson as an analyst, starting his climb in corporate finance. His long hours and ability to think outside of the box makes him a great asset to the firm, and his superior, Jim, starts sending him on overseas assignments.
On Nine-Eleven, Changez is overseas on business, and in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, he feels forced to take a stand reflecting his growing anti US views, and what he sees at US economic and political imperialism. Then, events and circumstances lead Changez home to his native Pakistan, where he accepts a professorate at the Lahore University. He gradually becomes a leading figure in non violent anti US opinion and protest marches. This eventually leads to the somewhat unclear end of the novel and film, as it hints at several possible outcomes.
Events developing the character
The protagonist's name Changez Khan is urdu for Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan was known for conducting several attacks on muslim cities in the 13th century, suggesting that Changez is not likely to turn to Islamic views and culture. This, however, acts as a paradox, as Changez does actually that.
A foreign student in the US, Changez had a different frame of reference for viewing american culture, as well as politics. His critical views and thoughts about “Uncle Sam” developed slowly and was suppressed during his college years, but accellerated during career in big finance, when he really should be riping the fruits, raking it in, and living the American dream. His views ultimately manifest after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and broadcasted drama, which he finds himself smiling at, as the fear, anger and sorrow fills the news broadcasts. He is not surprised at all.
During his business trips, he starts to question his own ethics and his his role as pawn to american capitalist interests. Changez becomes concerned about global power issues and is afraid that Pakistan is beeing played by USA in a game of middle east dominance. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon is an important turning point in Changez' life, and the general plot of the story. Following the attacks, Changez, as any arab/muslim/middle-easterner in the US, faced increasing suspicion from the US public and government. This, paired with his already growing anti US views, damaged his job situation. It led to lost motivation at work, ultimately causing him to getting fired, after an unsuccessful assignment in Chile. With no job, and no further intentions or wishes to stay in America, Changez Khan returns to Pakistan.
Returning to Pakistan
Changez returns to his hometown, Lahore, after studies, and a professional carreer on Wall Street. He starts working at the Lahore Unisversity, as a professor of finance. Changez becomes popular among his students, because of his insight in global issues, and gains many followers among them. He activizes his students in different non violent demonstrations, and openly criticizes American military matters around the globe.
In conclusion, one can certainly say that Chagez undergoes a thorough development, throughout the novel. From early on, we get to know Changez as a round character, changing his thoughts and views after his time and experience in the American business-world passes. Changez is dynamic, in the sense that his features, both mentally and visually, with him growing a beard, turns more away from the American economic capitalism. The 9/11 attacks is essential, and Changez confronts himself about his position. From living a wealthy american lifestyle, Changez finds himself leading student protests, and spreading anti-american propaganda after his return to Lahore, thus turning completely to the opposite of his previous position in the US.