My son the fanatic
It is difficult to live in another country than the one you come from. Because the religion and culture in the new country, probably is dissimilar to the one you are used to. Especially religion can give some big problems. It creates conflicts, hate and division between people and families. This is exactly what happens in the short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ by Hanif Kureishi. The relationship between the father (Parvez) and son (Ali) is put to a very difficult test.
Parvez is born in Pakistan and has immigrated to England. He grew up in Lahore, where he was taught the Koran, however, his relationship to the Koran is very bad, which is clear all text through. “To stop him falling asleep when he studied, the Moulvi had attached a piece of string to the ceiling and tied it to Parvez’s hair, so that if he fell forward, he would instantly awake.” (p. 196, ll. 11-14) this quote shows, how indifferent Parvez always has been to the Koran, he has ...view middle of the document...
“He could talk to her about things he’d never be able to discuss with his own wife.” (p. 195, ll. 1-2) this shows that he oddly trusts Bettina, though she is a prostitute. They have only known each other for three years, so it is a bit odd that he trusts Bettina more than his own wife. Bettina and Parvez see each other most nights.
When Parvez realizes that Ali is not doing drugs, he is very relieved. But when he discovers that Ali has turned to religion, he is not very delighted. As mentioned above, Parvez’s opinion about religion is not very good, which also I showed when Parvez and Ali are at the restaurant. “As Ali talked, Parvez looked out of the window as if to check that they were still in London.” (p. 198, ll. 16-17) Parvez feels like he is back in Pakistan. He cannot believe the words which are coming out of Ali’s mouth. This perfect son of his, whom he used to be proud of, is condemning his way of living the life.
Parvez begins to get drunk at the dinner, and every time he takes a drink, Ali makes a face or winced, which made Parvez drink even more. “Halfway through the meal Parvez suddenly lost his temper and threw a plate on the floor.” (p. 197, ll.24-25) this clearly describes Parvez’s feeling of frustration and impotence. Parvez is frustrated because he has lost his beloved son to religion, which he hates. He is also frustrated, because he has worked very hard to give Ali the best childhood possible, only to see Ali spoil his own life. He feels impotence because there is nothing he can do to change Ali’s beliefs.
In the end Parvez begins to kick and hit Ali, even though Ali falls, Parvez still hits him. Ali’s face is full of blood. Ali does not fight back; he just turns the other cheek and says “So who’s the fanatic now?” (p. 202, l. 6) The whole situation has now turned totally upside-down.
To sum up, the short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ is about the father-son relationship, between Parvez and Ali, which develops in a wrong direction seen from father’s point of view. When Parvez at firsts suspects Ali for doing drugs, he is frightened, but it is nothing compared to the conflict at the restaurant, or the conflict the story ends with. There is a clearly escalation of conflicts through the story. Perhaps Parvez already has seen the escalation before it has started.