Karim Amir’s Growth into Adulthood
20th Century British Literature II Final Essay
The journey from childhood to adulthood, a growth towards maturity that everyone embarks on in their life, is one filled with great complexity and obstacles. The conflicts that one will face revolve around the social, sexual, and political spheres that affect each of us in different ways. Facing each of these aspects, this journey is made by Karim Amir in Hanif Kureishi’s novel, The Buddha of Suburbia. A young mixed-race boy who lives in the suburbs of London in the 1970’s, Karim dreams of the city with hopes of happiness and prosperity. The working and lower-middle class society was associated with suburbia in the 1970’s and the higher-class individuals typically lived in the city. Karim’s journey into the city is his attempt to break free of his ‘lower-class’ label in society, which was placed on him because he was raised in suburbia. In this new environment of the city, Karim’s sexual opportunities expand as he is subject to the free-loving attitude of the city, which is contrasted to the suburbs where sex was seen as ‘dirty’. As a result of racial discrimination he faced in the suburbs and the limited availability of sexual possibilities, Karim rushes to integrate with the accepting attitude of the city. Shifting from suburbia to metropolis, Karim opens the door to different cultural spheres of class, sexuality and cultural acceptance and each of these are reflected the difference of suburban life to city life. Karim undergoes maturation into adulthood in The Buddha of Suburbia, struggling to realize that, ironically, the suburbs that he rejected in attempt to find a place of acceptance and freedom is the very place that truly accepts him and brings him freedom as an individual. As the novel progresses, a comparison of how Karim is treated in the suburbs by his peers versus in the city by the general population. Karim’s father, Haroon, “cherishes the preposterous hope...
Cited: Childs, Peter. “Suburban Values and Ethni-Cities in Indo-Anglian Writing.” Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives. Ed. Roger Webster. New York: Berghahn, 2000. 91-107. Print.
Glabazňa, Radek. "Theatre of Identity: The Buddha of Suburbia." Moravian Journal of Literature and Film 2.1 (2010): 65-78. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
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