The theme of My Son the Fanatic is culture clash. This first displays as intergenerational conflict between a father, Parvez, a Pakistani immigrant, and his son Ali. Parzev, though raised Muslim, wants with all his heart to embrace the customs and the opportunities offered in England, his adopted home. He works hard as a taxi driver, pays for his son to have a computer and go to college to study accounting, and lives a secular...
The theme of My Son the Fanatic is culture clash. This first displays as intergenerational conflict between a father, Parvez, a Pakistani immigrant, and his son Ali. Parzev, though raised Muslim, wants with all his heart to embrace the customs and the opportunities offered in England, his adopted home. He works hard as a taxi driver, pays for his son to have a computer and go to college to study accounting, and lives a secular life that includes drinking alcohol and eating pork, both forbidden by the Quran.
Ali, on the other hand, rejects his father's vision to embrace an Islamic fundamentalism who rejects Western values. He throws out the materials goods, like a computer, that his father has given him and holds his father's lifestyle in contempt.
While part of this reflects intergenerational conflict, a son breaking from a father, more significantly, it shows the deep divide in worldview between the secular west and fundamentalist Islam. Parvez believes "life was all there was and when you died you rotted in the earth ... while I am here on the earth I want to make the best of it." He wants to enjoy the material goods of life.
Ali believes differently:
'The Western materialists hate us,' Ali said. 'Papa, how can you
love something which hates you?' …
Ali addressed his father fluently, as if Parvez were a rowdy crowd
that had to be quelled or convinced. The Law of Islam would
rule the world; the skin of the infidel would bum off again and
again; the Jews and Christers would be routed. The West was a
sink of hypocrites, adulterers, homosexuals, drug takers and prostitutes.
As Ali talked. Parvez looked out the window as if to check that
they were still in London.
'My people have taken enough. If the persecution doesn't stop
there will be jihad. I, and millions of others, will gladly give our
lives for the cause.'
For Parvez, who grew up in poverty and under the thumb of insensitive Muslim teachers, the west shines like a light. For Ali, who has known nothing but western comfort, the west represents "decadence," lack of purity and degradation.
The father and son talk past each other, not to each other, although the father does try to reach the son. They cannot communicate because neither can understand the other. In the end, violence results. Kureishi is saying that we have to learn to listen to and understand each other before we can hope to solve differences in outlook.
My Son The Fanatic Essay
My Son the Fanatic
Hanif Kureishi’s short story “My Son the Fanatic” is the story of two competing beliefs: Ali’s passion for anti western Islam, and his father Parvez’s dream of providing for his family. Both father and son have different views on how to live life, and the idea of religion. Kureishi explores issues of identity, religion, and a father’s love for his son. Parvez, an English Punjabi taxi driver, has adapted to a new way of life so much so that he eats pork, a forbidden food in Muslim religion. Parvez was very proud of his son, and his academic accomplishments and often talked about him to his colleagues. One day, Parvez was going through Ali’s things and notices a change in his room. Parvez initially fears that his son was hooked on drugs, but later finds out his son started studying the Koran. Parvez accepts him and was thrilled that he wasn’t on drugs, but tension rises when Ali begins criticizing his fathers habits.
Parvez seemingly has lived in Britain for nearly twenty years; he has greatly adapted to British culture and lived a happy and free life. He was born in Lahore where he was taught the Koran. In school “the Maulvi had attached a string to the ceiling and tied it to Parvez’ hair to stop him from falling asleep, while he was studying the Koran.” This most likely caused Parvez to turn away from his strict religion. Parvez was in no way the ideal Muslim man, he gambles, drinks, makes fun of religion, associates with prostitutes, and as previously stated loves pork. Although Parvez was not a good Muslim, he was good man, which his son failed to see. On more than one occasion he saved his friend Bettina, a prostitute, from a violent client. Although he might not have followed his religion to a T he had clear ideas on what was right and wrong. Parvez seems to just want to fit in with other people in Britain, and tried to create a happy, loving environment for Ali. Parvez was very close with his son, and even considered their relationship like one between brothers. He seemed to live through his son, and in turn had a lot of dreams for his son to achieve. Ali, most likely trying to satisfy his father, got straight A’s, played cricket, football, and swam. He also had a lot of friends and a girlfriend; he was living his father’s English dream. Parvez started to notice a change in his son and begun digging for more information.
What bewildered him was that Ali was getting tidier. Instead of the usual tangle of clothes, books, cricket bats, video games, the room was becoming neat and ordered; spaces began appearing where before there had been only mess. Initially Parvez had been pleased: his son was outgrowing his teenage attitudes. (PA 1)
It was discovered that Ali became interested in becoming an Orthodox Muslim, and gave everything away. He gives away his books, toys, and clothes trying to neglect material items...
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