The Reluctant Fundamentalist Characters

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Characters

Q. Write the characters of The Reluctant  Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. 

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Characters


Changez is the main character in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. He is from Pakistan and studied at Princeton University before working at a financial firm in New York called Underwood Samson.

Initially, Changez enjoys his life in the United States and works hard to fit in with his American peers and succeed in his job. He also falls in love with Erica, an American woman struggling with her past.

However, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Changez started to feel out of place due to the increasing racism and suspicion towards Muslims.

His professional achievements begin to feel hollow as his personal life becomes complicated, especially with Erica, who cannot overcome her grief for her deceased boyfriend.

Feeling alienated, Changez returns to Pakistan and becomes a university lecturer. There, he openly criticizes American foreign policies.

His experiences in America and returning to Pakistan made him question his identity and the Western values he once admired. Changez’s story highlights his struggle with his changing sense of self and his eventual rejection of the life he once strived to build in the United States.

The Stranger

The Stranger is the listener to whom Changez recounts his tale. He remains unnamed and mostly silent throughout the novel, which adds to the mystery of his character.

His presence is perceived only through Changez’s perspective, making it unclear whether he is just a curious tourist or a government agent with a mission. This ambiguity enhances the tension and uncertainty that permeate the narrative.


Erica is a beautiful, troubled young woman from a wealthy New York family whom Changez falls in love with during his time in the United States.

She is haunted by the memory of her deceased boyfriend, Chris, which prevents her from fully engaging in a new relationship. After 9/11, her mental health deteriorates, and she becomes increasingly withdrawn.

Her story parallels America’s struggle with its past and identity after the terrorist attacks.


Jim is an executive at Underwood Samson and Changez’s mentor. He comes from a poor background and identifies with Changez’s outsider perspective, often offering advice and support.

However, his relationship with Changez is subtle and complex, possibly hinting at a deeper, unspoken bond. Jim’s character represents the American corporate elite, who are often blind to their employees’ cultural and personal conflicts.

The Waiter

The Waiter serves Changez and the Stranger in the Lahore café where the story unfolds. He is from a group affected by American military actions in Afghanistan, influencing his demeanour towards the Stranger.

His character adds a layer of tension to the café scenes, reflecting the broader geopolitical conflicts between America and the Muslim world.


Wainwright is Changez’s colleague at Underwood Samson and the only non white in their training group. He initially becomes friends with Changez but does not share Changez’s growing disillusionment with America.

His character shows how different individuals react to the same environments and situations based on their personal experiences and beliefs.


Juan-Batista is the Chilean publishing company president Underwood Samson is evaluating. His interactions with Changez lead to a significant turning point in Changez’s life, helping him realize his role as a modern “janissary” – someone who fights against his cultural roots.

This realization deeply affects Changez and influences his decision to leave Underwood Samson and America.

Minor Characters


Chris is Erica’s deceased boyfriend, whose memory looms large throughout the novel. His death profoundly impacts Erica and serves as a symbol of lost love and nostalgia that impedes her ability to move on.

Mike and Chuck

These characters are Changez’s Princeton classmates. They appear during the Greece trip, highlighting aspects of elite American culture and Changez’s interactions with his American peers.

Erica’s Parents

Erica’s mother and father are minor yet influential characters. Her father’s business success and somewhat patronizing attitude towards Changez highlight their social and economic distances.

Her mother’s reserved kindness influences Changez’s relationship with Erica.


A vice president at Underwood Samson, Sherman represents the corporate hierarchy that initially supports but eventually alienates Changez.

Changez’s Family

His family in Pakistan, including his parents and brother, provide a contrasting backdrop to his life in America, reflecting traditional values and concerns about geopolitical issues involving Pakistan and the U.S.