OVERVIEW Changez describes his discomfort and alienation in the aftermath of September 11, and his failed attempt to make love to America.
The American Changez remarks that the American’s demeanor makes him almost certainly not a tourist, but rather someone visiting Pakistan with a “purpose” (p88) If not a tourist, then what is his purpose in Pakistan?
Mortality and procreation The chapter deals with life and death: “It is remarkable indeed how we human beings are capable of delighting in the mating call of a flower while we are surrounded by the charred carcasses of our fellow animals” “… it is our nature to recognize subconsciously the link between mortality and procreation- … the finite and the infinite” “we are in fact driven by reminders of the one to seek the other” (p88) Flowers are a symbol of both life and death. Changez remarks on this and links it to the wreaths post-9/11. They are a reminder for Changez of the inappropriateness of his delight when the towers fell” “They reminded me of my own uncharitable – indeed, inhumane – response to the tragedy” (p90)
Patriotism Changez describes the patriotic reaction many Americans had following the 9/11 attacks: “Your country’s flag invaded New York after the attacks” (p90) “[The flags] seemed to proclaim: We are America...the mightiest civilization the world has ever known; you have slighted us; beware our wrath” - (p90) New York seems to be forsaking its unique cosmopolitan identity for a greater “American” one – and it is these 'American values' that threaten Changez. He no longer feels comfortable being himself in New York, and must show evidence of Americanisation, such as his “Princeton degree and Underwood Sampson business card” (p97), in order to be accepted into society.
Elitism & Home Erica gives him access to the upper class of society, which is appealing to him “I felt I was entering in New York the very same social class that my family was falling out off in Lahore” - (p97)
Identity & Home Changez has tied his identity to a number of things His family’s history (and consequently that of Pakistan) His status in America His relationship with Erica Arguably these things define him. 9/11 “churned up old thoughts that had settled in the manner of sediment to the bottom of the pond; now the waters of her mind were murky with what had previously been ignored. I did not know if the same is true of me.” “I dreamed not of Erica, but of home…” (p105)
Erica/America & Chris The allegory becomes more intense at this point- and much clearer (gross, too). 9/11 reminds Erica of Chris and she finds herself feeling “haunted” by him (p92) “theirs had been an unusual love, with such a degree of commingling identities that when Chris died, Erica felt she had lost herself...she did not know if she could be found” (p104) Changez fears he “could never compete” with Chris. (p93) He wonders if his “infatuation with Erica [is as] doomed” as his Aunt’s was. (p94) “I would observe that she was utterly detached, lost in a world of her own.” (p98)
Erica/America & Chris “her bruise; it was dark and angry” - (p102) “She said nothing while I was inside her, but I could see her discomfort, and so I forced myself to stop.” (p102) (foreshadowing his departure from America?) “her body had rejected me” (p103) Erica's physical rejection of Changez while they make love mirrors the rejection which Changez feels from the United States; nobody has denied his presence in America, but the discomfort he senses from those around him inflicts a wound on his pride.
Chapter 6 Questions: 1. What is the purpose of this statement? “tonight, as I think we both understand, is a night of some importance” (p105) 2. What indication is there that Changez is unsure of who he is? 3. Post-9/11 he notes the strong sense of nostalgia in both Erica and America. Provide evidence (p94) 4. How is the metaphor of sex used to explore the flaws in both characters? (pp ) 5. Changez fears he “could never compete” with Chris. How does this feeling mirror his relationship with America?