My Son the Fanatic
My Son the Fanatic
My Son the Fanatic
Everything you need to know about " My Son the fanatic " • Summary of the plot ( page 3) • Restaurant scene ( page 2 ) • "characterization" of Ali and Parvez
Englisch My Son the fanatic - Summary, Analysis, resturant scene, problems 7. My Son the Fanatic Crisis of identity and alienation "My Son the Fanatic” describes aspects of the struggle many children of immigrants face. Not being accepted by their birth environment because their parents' background, skin colour or religion, they feel disrespected and alienated, despite the fact that they were born in England. Ali seeks for values he can identify with and thus turns to religion. He has become estranged from his father, whom he considers to be corrupted by the British way of life (drinking, gambling and socialising with women). Ali becomes increasingly intolerant and fanatically devout, praying five times a day. Several indicators in the story show his religious fanaticism. Ali seems to have been conditioned to promote Islam (“as if he'd swallowed someone else's voice"). When talking to his father he speaks of the injustices done to "my people" instead of "our people". He treats his father with disrespect, which would be unacceptable in a traditional Pakistani family. He seems to consider his own father an infidel who must be lectured and set on the right path. Represented problems immigrants face, reducing them to this failed father-son relationship: - Immigrant children still meet with ignorance, intolerance and stereotypes. - They do not feel...
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accepted by the society they were born and live in and seek guidance in their parents' culture. - While their parents try to become integrated members of Western society, their children become alienated from their mother country (Britain) and also from the parents, who seem unable to offer support and (moral) guidance. - Clash of cultures o Outside: adopt a western lifestyle → At home: live according to values, beliefs & traditions which is typical of their parents' home countries! o Especially For women and girls: problem of role identity! Climax: - The problem for Ali is living in England because "they let you do almost everything" - Conflict with Bettina - Ali gets beaten up by Parvez Ethnic and religious tensions still lead to conflicts in Britain today, but aspects like the gender, and generational and class differences are also important in these conflicts of modern British immigrant identity. Structure: Climax Rising action Rising action: - Suggestion: Ali is taking drugs 1 - Beginning of meeting in the restaurant - Discover Ali praying Exposition: - Main characters are introduced (Ali, Parvez, Bettina) - Identify main subject š Ali's changing behaviour Parvez, represents first/second generation - Works for longhours - Pays for Ali's education, which is expensive - Taxi driver for twenty years - Drinks alcohol - Grown up in Lahore, Pakistan - Taught the Koran, indignity, avoiding any kind of religion - Knows Bettina for three years (liaison) - Assimilated in society - Wants to change for his son, takes care of family and friends Ali, represents third generation - Got tidier, throws his possessions out, more important things to be done - Looks at father with disgust - Prays five times a day - Orthodox muslim - Against anything of western civilisation o Devout, dedicated, ambitious, hateful, intolerant Flat character Bettina - Prostitute - Experienced in superstitious groups, confident - Liaison to Parvez Analysis of the restaurant scene š verbal and non-verbal behaviour Verbal: - Parvez: tries to stay calm, patient, but then he becomes aggressive o Tries to defend himself when being attacked by Ali - Ali: provokes his father, “sharp tongue" o States his point of view Non-verbal: - Parvez: getting more and more desperate about Ali, is drunk, becomes furious - Ali: shows disgust towards Parvez Conclusion: Parvez verbal behaviour decreases, non-verbal behaviour increases š shows what happens on the inside of Parvez 2 Summary The plot • Short story about the relationship between the Punjabi immigrant Parvez and his son Ali • Parvez works hard as a taxi driver to enable his son to enjoy all comforts of a Western lifestyle • Ali starts to change drastically: He tidies up his room and gets rid of his possessions • Parvez talks to his friend Bettina about it, they first believe that Ali takes drugs • But it turn out that Ali is fanatically religious and extremely devout • Parvez does not live according to the rules of the Quran, he enjoys the freedom Britain has to offer Ali begins lecturing his father, which only increases Parvez' fear The situation escalates when Parvez and Bettina pick up Ali one night Bettina tries to talk to Ali, who insults her because of being a prostitute • When home, Parvez starts drinking heavily before entering his son's room • He finds Ali praying The story end with Parvez hitting his son, who ask him: "So who's the fanatic now?" Crisis of identity and alienation "My Son the Fanatic" shows several aspects of the problems immigrants face: • Immigrant children still meet with ignorance, intolerance and stereotypes. They do not feel accepted by the society they were born in → Seek guidance in their parents' culture • They become alienated from their mother country • Parents seem to be unable to offer support and (moral) guidance Ethnic and religious tensions still lead to conflicts in Britain today Minorities in the US ● 1. Keywords • Multi-cultural society: a society where various ethnic groups and their cultural heritage are accepted in their own right • Salad bowl: the various ethnicities living in the US adding their own traditions, cultural values, etc. to those of the American people; the various heritages do not merge into one, but stay distinct (“unity in diversity") • Melting pot: the various ethnic groups do not retain their cultural heritage but amalgamate into one new nation. The term "salad bowl" is now considered to be more politically correct Second generation immigrants & typical problems/conflicts they have to face: Clash of cultures: • Most of them experience a clash of cultures: - Outside: adopt a western lifestyle → At home: live according to values, beliefs & traditions which is typical of their parents home countries! → Often the biggest challenge is how to become commited citizens in a modern Britian without forgetting about their roots & home country! • Caught between 2 cultures (Eastern & Western lifestyles) – torn/ wander between 2 worlds! → Between modern & traditional values (and arent sure which to adopt): - Cultural Identity Problem: split cultural identites + live a double life - For some of them, the transition between these different lifestyles isn't easy • Especially For women & girls: problem of role identity! 3 Difficulties & pressure to conform to certain standards and expectations: • Problems when it comes to living up to the expectations of their parents, friends, teachers etc. They feel judged, excluded, discriminated & treated unfairly - often rebell They feel judged, excluded, discriminated & treated unfairly → often rebell Sometimes: - Instead of following their parent's path of job, integration & material prosperty, they turn to religion to give their life a meaning! Characters Parvez Parvez is the protagonist of the story "My son the fanatic" by Hanif Kureishi. He is a Pakistani immigrant and lives with his wife and his son Ali in Britain. He was born in Lahore, the son of Pakistani parents. Parvez is very open-minded and has assimilated into Western society. As a taxi- driver, drunkard, pork-eater and friend of prostitutes, he's totally disinterested in the Koran or in any Islamic beliefs. His attitude to Islam is also affected by negative experiences as a child ("...all young boys had been taught the Koran and, to stop Parvez from falling asleep while studying, the maulvi had attached a piece of string to the ceiling and tied it to Parvez's hair, so if his head fell forward, he would instantly jerk awake" P.192 L.13-16). In the past, Ali was Parvez's best friend, and they talked about everything. So it's all the more tragic how their relationship breaks apart. After becoming anxious about his son, Parvez seeks Bettina's advice, because she is his main support person in the story. After Ali offends Bettina very harshly (and after many desperate attempts by Parvez to reach Ali), Parvez's patience snaps. Parvez realizes that his son has become unreachable and so he hits him. Ali Ali, Parvez's son, was born in England and is studying there. In the past, Ali was on very good terms with Parvez. They were not only father and son, they were friends. But as Ali's behaviour has changed, their relationship has fallen apart. We don't know just why Ali has changed, but it must have been a very big reason that would cause him to change so much. Ali's statement, that he changed just through "living in this country" (P.196 L.3) is surely not the only reason. So we cant necessarily assume that Ali has always been as he is in the story (intolerant, blinkered, chauvinistic, ....fanatic). How much Ali's beliefs are different from his father's is particularly well shown in the restaurant scene (P. 193 - 196). Here Parvez realizes, that it was premature to be"relieved" about his religious son. Bettina Bettina is a prostitute and often a passenger in Parvez´s taxi. But Bettina and Parvez have also become good friends. She is the main support person in the story and tries to help Parvez. She gives him a lot of good advice about how to reach Ali, but none of it seems to work. After Bettina is offended by Ali and runs away, Parvez's most important person (maybe after Ali) has been expelled. Now Parvez listens no longer the voice of reason and so he tries to communicate with Ali in the only language that a fanatic understands: Violence. Analysis: Hanif Kureishi's short story "My Son the Fanatic" was originally published in The New Yorker in 1994. The story deals with a father-son relationship and has anticipated discussions of Islamic fundamentalists recruited in apparently assimilated second-generation immigrants. Because of its topicality, "My Son the Fanatic" has continuously exerted interest since its initial publication. The story appeared in Kureishi's collection Love in a Blue Time (1997) and as an appendix to the 2009 paperback edition of the novel The Black Album (1995). In 1997, Kureishi adapted "My Son the Fanatic" into a film of the same title, directed by Udayan Prasad and starring Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths, and Stellan Skarsgard. "My Son the Fanatic" begins in medias res (Latin for "in the middle of things"), a technique that subverts chronological order and starts the narration at a point when important events have already happened. The story thus begins when Ali's process of becoming a Muslim "fanatic" has been going on for some time. This stylistic choice is designed to capture readers' attention and implicate them in the narrative. From the very first sentence, "Surreptitiously, the father began going into his son's room," readers become accomplices of the father and closely identify with his point of view and his bewilderment at his son's fundamentalism. Readers would normally expect to see the old generation tied to ethnic and religious traditions; second-generation immigrants would be more keen to assimilate. This process of subverting readers' expectations is carried to the extreme as Kureishi's short story ends with no immediate closure and no reassurance of any possible resolution in the future. LO 5