For this project, I have created a thumbprint document, meant to represent the biometric authentication documents required for immigrants upon entering the United States, for Changez from Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. The thumbprint is comprised of Changez’s characteristics and identity markers. While making the thumbprint, I thought about identity formation and broke down the identification words into three categories 1) what we are born with 2) what is influenced by others 3) what we create ourselves. For example, Changez was born a son to his parents with a dark complexion. His “fundamentals”, found at the very center of the thumbprint, were influenced by a multitude of factors and people such as his ancestry, Underwood Samson, Erica, Jim, 9/11, etc.
Last semester I took a course called the Arab-American Experience, in which we discussed the multiple perceptions of what it means to be Arab-American. This class has allowed me to further explore the hyphenated American identity, or in the case of Changez, what it means to be a “[hyphen] New Yorker”. I chose to create a fingerprint because it is one of the first things taken from those entering the United States for an extended period of time and because it is in a way a form of legal synecdoche, in which a person with his or her complex identity is reduced to a fingerprint. By incorporating multiple identity markers in this thumbprint, I tried to echo Changez’s trajectory int he novel in terms of opposing a system that focuses on one part of his identity, his being muslim.