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Jessica
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Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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The Book as a Whole: Changez and Erica

Discuss Changez's relationship with Erica. What prevents them from having a "normal" relationship? Why are they attracted to each other? How does Erica's fate affect Changez?


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Note: This topic refers to the book as a whole.

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bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Changez and Erica (Spoiler)


Jessica wrote:

Discuss Changez's relationship with Erica. What prevents them from having a "normal" relationship? Why are they attracted to each other? How does Erica's fate
affect Changez?



Reply to this message to discuss any of these topics. Or start your own new topic by clicking "New Message."

Note: This topic refers to the book as a whole.





The true love story gone bad is not one between Erica and Changez. (I look at his name as meaning to me Changes which is what happens to him throughout the novel.) The love story gone bad is between Changez and his vision/quest of the American dream. He likes the chance to gain entry into the world of the rich and wealthy class of Americans and maybe he feels that though his house in Lahore is slightly falling apart, he can "regain the ability to make it right" in Lahore by becoming a brilliant success in America.

Erica and Changez "connect". Changez is smitten with her and I think views her as part of the quest of his American dream. She fits the bill. A normal relationship is impossible. She still wears the shirt of her beloved Chris. They had grown up together and Chris was her boyfriend who died from lung cancer. She had made sure while she was at Princeton to not have any classes on Friday so that she could spend long weekends with him while he was sick. She is beautiful, obviously uninhibited, free and fun loving, like a lioness and a genuinely sensitive and sad person. She feels alone now that Chris had died and is ripe for a connection with another man. The events in NYC are a turning point and she suffers further loss to herself and this despair turns inward killing the beautiful vitality and person she once was. She doesn't like being alone yet she retreats into her own despair and depression making a relationship with anyone else impossible. She doesn't even have a good relationship with herself. Sad as it is for Erica, it releases Changez and allows him to turn away from his true love affair (the love affair with the American dream) and turn more towards his core religious, political and fundamentalist beliefs. He is excited when he sees the skin of Erica which he explains is erotic in Pakistan. Changez didn't really cut it in America, he didn't make the grade at the consulting firm and was ultimately fired. Erica going into an institution seemed a neat way to package and finish off his true relationship (that of his relationship with America). Did he abandon his dream and his true lover because he could not make the grade?

I found Erica despite her problems more true and real in her suffering and much more sympathetic and likeable. Changez for me was polite and showed deference, was conciliatory and formal; yet bitter and resentful. As I am reading the novel, my instincts might be mollified; but right now Changez is not a likeable character and I am not sure why he has sought out the American in Lahore or another question would be has the American sought out Changez? I think their meeting like they did was much too convenient.

My feeling was that Changez's true love died and I am not talking about Erica. It can be likened to a very contentious and bad divorce where everything is wrong with the former spouse you once loved and admired. Now nothing is right; everything looks bad, and it is impossible to reconcile the disparity. Now come the Four Horsemen and only bitterness, resentment, hatred, and vengeance set in. They take up residence in the heart and mind of the individual. In this case, Changez. For America and for Changez, it has become a lost cause and a lost quest. Changez returns to a "safety zone": Lahore....where he can retreat and change further from the man he had thought he had become. Everything is wrong with America; but Changez doesn't see anything wrong with himself. He is still perfect and superior as he always has been; and what right does America have to belittle him.

The terrible tragedy did change America and traumatized New Yorkers and when things like this happen, people react and sometimes not for the best. But that can be explained; how do you explain the "smile"?
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