The Portrayal of Clashing Cultural Values in the Novel Funny Boy by Syam Selvadurai

Topics: Culture, Funny Boy, Shyam Selvadurai Pages: 4 (1388 words) Published: October 14, 2005
The portrayal of Clashing Cultural Values in the Novel Funny Boy by Syam Selvadurai

Shyam Selvadurai, the author of Funny Boy, felt the necessity to write about this issue because it is kept in the dark, especially in Sri Lanka. In addition, Sri Lanka is faced with many cultural problems. The Tamils and Singhalese are in constant conflict because of their different moral values. Selvadurai grew up in this type of atmosphere, he was homosexual and was raised in an environment where fighting took place regularly. Selvadurai decided to write this book not only as therapy for himself but also to lend a voice to those who still have trouble expressing themselves about both of these issues – especially children. "Selvadurai writes as sensitively about the emotional intensity of adolescence as he does about the wonder of childhood" (Hower, 22). Arjie Chelvaratnam, the protagonist in Selvadurai's novel, finds himself going through similar problems. He feels lost because his attitudes towards life differ greatly from those around him. In his novel, Funny Boy, Shyam Selvadurai uses character and plot to show how conflicting cultural beliefs can lead to confusion and alienation.

The theme of clashing cultural values is brought out through the character of Arjie's father, Appa. As Arjie was growing up, he often enjoyed spending his days playing games like dress-up and ‘wedding' with his younger girl cousins. To him, it came naturally. He felt that playing with the boys would be too boring and dull. Arjie's problems start from the day that he is caught wearing a sari by his Kanathi Aunty. At this point, his Cyril Uncle cries out: "Looks like you have a funny one here" (Selvadurai 14).

From this moment on, Appa refuses to let his son play with the girls. Appa is a man who is completely caught up in the idea of having a good reputation within the community. If the village ever finds out that Arjie is "funny," the Chelvaratnam family will be rejected and...
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