My Son the Fanatic
My Son the Fanatic is a short story about a worried dad, Parvez. From his perspective we get to read how his son, Ali, is suddenly changing his view on life and with that, also turning upside down his father’s life. A theme of the story could be: ‘teenager creating his own identity’. That is what Ali is doing by breaking out of the world in which he was raised by his parents. Ali wants to take the opposite direction of his dad, to avoid ending up like him; this could be an important reason for Ali suddenly becoming a Muslim. Another possible theme would be: ‘rebelling against parents’.
The story is told in third person singular by an implicit teller who is aware of Parvez’ thoughts and how he is feeling. There are only three relevant characters in the story: Parvez the father, Ali the son and Bettina, who is a street prostitute and a friend of Parvez.
Parvez is a taxi driver living in England with his family. Even though he was raised in Lahore and taught to be a Muslim, he tries to fit in with society as good as possible. As a child, Parvez had bad experiences learning the Koran, which is probably what causes his anti-religious behaviour (p. 197 l. 21 and 197 l. 38-40). That is also why Parvez has difficulties trying to understand his son, when he finds him praying five times a day. He feels he has lost his son (p. 199 l. 22), and gets so angry that he can’t control himself in some situations. However, throughout the story we get the impression that he is a good father, really trying to live with the way his son has changed. For instance, on page 196 lines 23 – 27, Parvez takes a night off to go out with his son and tell him about his family in Pakistan. Parvez’ good intentions aside; him having a drinking problem combined with the sharp tongue Ali has developed are two things that are not making it easy for Parvez to keep his temper. Throughout the story, Parvez talks to Bettina about the problem, sounding very insecure and worried....
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