Literary Analysis of My Son the Fanatic

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Literary Analysis of My Son the Fanatic

Written by Hanif Kureishi, the short story My Son the Fanatic develops through the conflict between a father and his son. In the story, the father Parvez who works as a taxi driver immigrated from Pakistan to England with his family twenty years ago. His son Ali is a college student in England. When Ali was behaving abnormally, Parvez’s suspicion led him to discover that Ali had turned into a religious Muslim. Parvez, although born as a Muslim, does not strictly abide by Islam rules. The father and son are holding different beliefs; hence they could hardly accept each other’s moral values anymore. Because the author told the story in Parvez’s point of view, it might be controversial that between Parvez and Ali, which character is on the right side. However, as the title of the story suggested, Kureishi, the author, clearly wanted to convince the readers that the son Ali is the fanatic, urging the readers to take Parvez’s side.

The author Kureishi, by no means, has depicted Parvez a perfect man. Parvez as a character has a lot of shortcomings: as a Muslim, he gambles; he drinks; he eats pork; he makes fun of religion representative--the local mullahs and as a husband, he tries to avoid his wife by driving the night taxi (Kureishi 61, 63). Some may argue that he has not been depicted as a good man or as a good father because those shortcomings, on the contrary, those shortcomings draw him closer to the readers. Parvez as a character had become so similar to somebody whom the readers might have known from their real life--a good man but with imperfections. Therefore, it is imaginable how easily could the readers relate to the character or even his problems in the story. Under Kureishi’s depiction, Parvez might not be a good Muslim, yet his morals were not totally compromised. For example, he saved Bettina, a prostitute from a violent client, he obviously has a clear standard on what’s right or wrong besides what is being told in the Koran (62). The author summed up Parvez well in the story, “He knew he wasn't a bad man. He had a conscience. There were a few things of which he was ashamed, but on the whole, he had lived a decent life ”(64). In addition, Parvez not being a good husband does not stop Kureishi from depicting him as a good father. Parvez, in fact, is a good father indeed and he is proud of himself for being one. “For years, Parvez had boasted to the other men about how Ali excelled in cricket, swimming, and football, and what an attentive scholar he was, getting A’s in most subjects ”(62). He cared for his son and worked hard to provide for him that “ he had always been aware of the pitfalls that other men’s son’s had stumbled into in England. It was for Ali that Parvez worked long hours; he spent a lot of money paying for Ali’s education as an accountant. He had bought Ali good suits, all the books he required, and a computer”(Kureishi 61). He believes a father should be responsible for his son that he “had blamed other fathers whose sons began running around with bad girls, skipping school, and joining gangs” (Kureishi 61). So when things go abnormal with his own son, he ‘s afraid that he would be blamed for not being a good father (Kureishi 61), and tried to make things right again by closely inspecting his son and repeatedly reaching out to him.

Kureishi provides the readers with little information about the son Ali’s personal life, and some of which are negative, so it is more difficult for the readers to relate to the character. For example, at the beginning of the story, the author informed the readers through Parvez’s point of view that Ali had broken up with his English girlfriend, and all his old friends stopped ringing (61). This hardly counts as a positive sign for Ali as a character at the beginning of the story when the author suggests that he is being alienated or starts to alienate others. Apart from that, according to Kureishi, it is Ali who should...
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