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Humanities 2018, 7(4), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040104

“She Did Not Notice Me”: Gender, Anxiety, and Desire in The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Literature Department, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 23 October 2018 / Published: 25 October 2018
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Abstract

Using the recent trend in literary scholarship that theorizes literature in terms of globalization, cosmopolitanism, and dialectic transnational identities, I examine gender and sexual ideology in Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a post-9/11 text that explores the intricacies of community and terror. Specifically, I argue that the novel articulates a particularly gendered vision of spatial, social, and political (im)mobility through the narrator’s desires, especially as demonstrated through his romantic interest, and masculine anxieties expressed through his response to American imperialism. The narrator’s view of the United States is inexorably tied to his projection of convoluted desire, and he conflates impotence with frustration at being unable to respond to growing American militaristic power. We as readers wish to identify with a protagonist whose story we slowly learn is largely articulated in terms of his sexual desire and denial: we at first empathize with his desire but then, when discovering its projection is problematic, simultaneously wish to reject it. The interplay of the microcosm of an individual’s failed romantic relationship and the macrocosm of countries at conflict mimics the mobility and liminality of conflicting ideologies. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender and sexuality; globalization; terrorism; masculinity; imperialism gender and sexuality; globalization; terrorism; masculinity; imperialism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Woltmann, S. “She Did Not Notice Me”: Gender, Anxiety, and Desire in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Humanities 2018, 7, 104.

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