Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Degree

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Committee Chair

Matthew Calihman

Keywords

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mohsin Hamid, personal identity, cultural cosmopolitanism, ethnocentric nationalism, migration, national belonging, American Dream, ethnic literature, otherness

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature

Abstract

This study examines the quest for the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, in light of the politics of ethnicity and national identity and cultural cosmopolitanism. The two novels are analyzed in the context of the city in early twentieth-century America and post-9/11 America, respectively. I interpret the texts’ quest for the American Dream as a quest for an inclusive national identity that is consistent with the cosmopolitan principles of coexistence and individual obligation toward others—beyond the social boundaries of ethnicity and culture and beyond the political boundary of citizenship. I argue that the novels’ protagonists fantasize New York City as the site of an American cosmopolitanism. However, their fantasies are shattered when the protagonists fail to achieve the American Dream and attain national belonging. I conclude that Fitzgerald and Hamid warn against the formation of ethnocentric nationalism and offer a cultural cosmopolitanism as an alternative.

Copyright

© Hana Mohammed Smail

Open Access

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