Book assignment

Written assignment, task 2

In this assignment, I will compare the two books The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid (2007), and About a Boy by Nick Hornby (1998). In this comparison I will focus mainly on how the books can affect the way we, as readers, deals with the difficult business of leading our own lives. I will try to find the similarities and differences, and try to link that to a normal person’s life, and how the book can help the reader solve common problems.

About a boy contains several key persons, and all of them go through some kind of identity change that changes their lives in a positive direction. The changes help the characters to do the right choices, and some of the changes may also save that person’s life.  I will start with Will. In the start, Will does not care much for other than himself, and as readers, we get to know that he does not like children, and that he does not have a job. These things changes towards the end of the story, and we can clearly see the benefits in Wills change.  Many people today go through, or should have gone through, one or more of Wills line of development. The most common line of development is where the person starts with a lot of selfishness and rarely care for other people, and ends up being a caring person that takes responsibility. Luckily, this line of development is not a too common phenomenon among the average reader because most of us are born with an instinct that tells us to stick together, take responsibility, and care for others.

We can find another not so common line of development with Fiona, Marcus’ mother. At the start, she is suicidal and very depressed, and this affects all the central persons in the book, just like a mental or physical dysfunction affects family members and friends in real life. Marcus takes care of his mother, and becomes almost a contrast to Will. At the end it seems that Fiona gets better, and this allows Marcus to unfold himself a lot more than he could before. If we take a more general look at this example, we can see that the love of the mother sets limits for Marcus’ development. She clearly loves him, but holds him back with all her requests of attention and her wish of his behavior. This is a common phenomenon among mothers, something I have experienced with my mother, and as most other kids experience. At the end of the book, Fiona regrets requesting Marcus to be the way she wants him to be, and sees that the boy needs to get his own identity, and unfold. This experience can represent a moral about not holding too tight on your child, and I believe that the moral appears in every mother-son/mother-daughter relation.

This book also brings forth the big topic: bullying. Marcus is being bullied at school, as millions of other children. Against the end of the story, this changes dramatically. This happens parallel to Marcus building an identity. As Marcus built up his identity, other children seem to like him instead of bullying him. I think that this can help other children that are being bullied, so they may built their own identity, and so they can get a step closer to getting out of the bullying.

I will also bring forth a last moral from this book, regarding Rachel. This moral concern all human beings. When Rachel and Will dates, and Will is being honest, we can clearly see that Rachel’s prejudice reject him. She looks at him as boring, and as a cheap liar. Later in the book, she noticed him from another view, and accepts him, and falls in love. That is all about looking past the prejudices to see the people for who they actually are.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist contains rather few characters, and I will only focus on two of the characters, Changez and Erica. There is hard to find parts in this book that appeal to individual persons, but we find elements that tell us about the difference in people at a world scale. That has to do with understanding of other people and other cultures, and is a basis in how to behave among other people.


There are not many similarities between these two stories if we focus on elements that can help us coping with the difficult business of leading our own lives. About a Boy got a lot of examples of good moral and good advice on coping with everyday problems, both common and special cases. Most common is how to deal with prejudice on a daily basis, and other special cases like coping with suicidal tendencies both for yourself (if a reader has that kind of problems), or if the reader is coping with that through family or friends. Though, I think the most important element is how to cope with bullying, and the importance of building an identity. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a lot different. Most if the elements that can be linked to coping with difficult business of leading our own lives are very general, so we get to learn more about what the basis of behavior for groups of people than coping with individually problems, though the basis often is linked to coping with individual obstacle.
Vegard Kirkevold


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