Too often historical narratives do not take into account mineralized experiences, including the lives of racial, gendered, sexual, or religious outsiders. Therefore, one vital task of art and literature is to supplement so-called official history. This essay addresses and analyzes how our authors write alternative histories. These stories are important to document because these authors choose to trade a path that most authors fear. In doing so, this essay will evaluate Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Toni Morrison’s Recitatif.
In Reluctant Fundamentalist Mohsin Hamid through Changez leaves readers asking themselves about who should shoulder the blame following the 9/11 incursion on US soil. Changez blames the US and India for the problems in his country. However, Changez is not sincere he is the one to blame for his predicament for he was well educated in the USA he asserts “I have access to this beautiful campus … to professors who are titans in their fields (3)” America made Chavez who he is his actions after 9/11 are betrayal in nature since it was in the US that he was able to get a starting salary of over $78,000 but he decides to become a reluctant fundamentalist after Muslims start being stereotyped following the attack. He should have found a better way of confronting the problem rather than being ungrateful.
Despite getting an education in the US and a good starting salary he turns his back on America when he asserts that not one “of these worthy restaurateurs would consider placing a western dish on his menu (101)” While he says so he does not consider the fact that it is the Americans who gave him the fishing rod he uses to fish. A Changezian perception has been adopted in his home country Pakistan where they believe that America, the Army and Allah are the sources of their problems. He does not show any sorrow for the lives that were lost on 9/11 but is quick to accuse America for solely targeting Pakistan after 9/11 in spite of the opposition it faced from a multitude of countries globally. He critiques the US for unilaterally causing harm to millions of people worldwide.
Changez recalls smiling when he witnessed on his Television set the twin towers fall. Even as he blames the US for its campaigns worldwide in pursuit of terrorists he does not bother to know the identity of those who perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist attack on US soil. Coincidentally they were trained in Pakistan before the attack. He is bitter about the US and Indian attack on his country after the terrorist attack on Indian parliamentary buildings. However, he fails to realize that once again the perpetrators of this awful act were of Pakistan origin. As much as he claims that Pakistanis “were not the crazed and destitute radicals you see on your television channels but rather saints and poets (102)” his acting radical worsens the situation rather than finding a solution to it.
The reader is thus very much disappointed in Changez because he being amongst the new generation of Pakistanis bred and educated in the USA should have like his contemporaries seen the light. However he fails miserably and joins the old guard who do not see anything good in America.
In Toni Morrison’s Recitatif a society’s undisclosed racial codes are exposed. Apart from that, the author exposes things happening amongst the urban poor that are very inhuman it they have no otherwise because they are poor. For instance he begins the book by this statement: “My mother danced all night and Roberta’s was sick. That’s why we were taken to St. Bonny’s (1).”Twyla’s mother has failed in her role as a mother because of poverty. Twyla thus went to live at the St. Bonaventure shelter where she is introduced to Roberta whom they have very many things in common; they are both eight years and register failing grades; “We were eight years old and got F’s all the time (2)”. The author tries to indicate that grades are not racial in nature in spite of the fact that the two girls were of two different races they all failed in class because they did not work hard. This means that if anyone regardless of race races is exposed to an enabling environment he can make a difference.
Even though the author does not point out which of the two girls is black or white he points out codes that identify with both races, for instance: “The food was good, though. At least I thought so. Roberta hated it and left whole pieces of things on her plate: Spam, Salisbury steak-even jello with fruit cocktail in it, and she didn’t care if I ate what she wouldn’t (2).” Its only whites who have it all that behaves like Roberta while impoverished blacks behave like Twyla.
The relationship between race and disability is the central point of the story. The issues of race are remolded through the perspective of disability “Maggie fell down there once. The kitchen woman with legs like parentheses, And the big girls laughed at her. We should have helped her up, I know, but we were scared of those girls with lipstick and eyebrow pencil. Maggie couldn’t talk. The kids said she had her tongue cut out, but I think she was just born that way: mute. She was old and sandy-colored and she worked in the kitchen. I don’t know if she was nice or not. I just remember her legs like parentheses and how she rocked when she walked (2)”. Maggie represents the racial minority in the society; even though they are disabled economically, socially and politically the racial majorities trod on them inhumanly leaving them in a worse situation.
The two girls were separated after school and later met several times, in one of their last meetings. The theme of racism is well brought out, the racial minorities are protesting in the streets against segregation when Twyla drives by. She notices Roberta and stops to greet her but Roberta gives her a cold face. The other protesters would have harmed Twyla were it not for the police intervening. “Maybe I am different now, Twyla. But you’re not. You’re the same little state kid who kicked a poor old black lady when she was down on the ground. You kicked a black lady and you have the nerve to call me a bigot (16)” The fact that Twyla responds that Maggie might have been white shows that the racial problem was deep rooted and did not choose between disabled and able people.