My Son the Fanatic by Hanif Kureishi

   My Son the Fanatic” represents and explores conflicting notions of modern British identity. As well as ethnic and racial tensions, you might look at questions of generational difference, gender, religion, empire, class.

1. Use textual evidence from the story to justify your interpretation, and pay attention to literary strategies such as structure, diction (language choice) characterisation and narrative structure.

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2. Follow this link: Multicultural Society And Islamic Fundamentalism


Take  notes of important information that may help you write an essay on this story.

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12 Responses to My Son the Fanatic by Hanif Kureishi

  1. Lucas Guglielmone says:

    There are clearly some ethnical and religious tensions in the story. Religion and ethnic values intervene when Ali struggles to keep his religious and cultural values while living in England. He has to live in both cultures at the same time. This are not the onlt facts to consider as he intends to have a some kind of relation (friends or even more) with certain people along the story. There is a sudden change that involves a relationship with his girlfriend that makes Ali choose one of these two sides. His anger grew so easily that he sold all those thing that reminded him to the british culture and decided to follow his roots, his original nature. The story is focused on how does Parvez copes with this drastic change of his son’s attitude. “He dragged the boy up by the front of his shirt and hithim. The boy fell back Parvez hit him again…” He shows the same anger as his son, towards his son.
    Cultural values, Family issues, Religion Matters and Ethnical roots made up this Story conflicts which trouble the protagonists.

  2. Guido Ciccone says:

    My Son the Fanatic is about 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 not normally, Parvez s suspicion led him to discover that Ali had turned into a religious Muslim. Parvez, although born as a Muslim, does not strictly tolerate by Islam rules. The father and son had different beliefs. They could not accept each other. Ali changed, Parvez could notice this.

  3. Micaela Cardalda says:

    I definitely agree that “My Son the Fanatic” explores the concept of racial tensions. The relationship between a father and a son gets tense and at the end ruined due to this delicate subject of religion. The struggle between conserving the original pakistani religion and trying to fit into the british society brings out several uneasy moments between the father and his son. For example, the son gets very effusive while explaining his father why was so important to respect their religion, and how outsiders they really were in that british society by critisicing it : “Western education cultivates an anti-religion attitude”

  4. Olivia, Santiago and Victoria says:

    1) In the story “My Son the Fanatic” we can observe that there are ethnic and racial tensions, because Ali, Parvez’s son is struggling to maintain and stick to his roots and Pakistani culture, but he lives in England. He goes through a drastic change: he stopped seeing his girlfriend, his friend, sold his material things, etc. He completely got rid of his old, typical English lifestyle and took up one that was more related to his ancestors and to religion. “Initially, Parvez had been pleased: his son was outgrowing his teenage attitudes.” “without explanation Ali had parted from the English girlfriend”.
    In contrast, his father was constantly trying to fit in with the British society. Parvez lived a non religious life. He wanted his son to become a British stereotype: he should marry and start a family and get a good job. He felt that Ali was not appreciating his efforts.”It was for Ali that Parvez worked for long hours”.
    “Parvez kicked him over (…) The boy’s face was bloody (…) He only said, through his split lip: “so who’s the fanatic now?”. There is a tension between these two characters which represents the anger and struggle between the two cultures. There is a clash of identity.

  5. “My Son the Fanatic” represents and explores conflicting notions of modern British identity. As well as ethnic and racial tensions, you might look at questions of generational difference, gender, religion, empire, class.

    We agree with the statement, because as regards, the conflicting notions of modern British identity, is expresed in Parvez´s constant desire of fiting in this society, making the readers understand that he might have experienced dicrimination and segregation when he first arrived to the country. That is why he wants he and his family, to be accepted and to be part of the community,¨We have to fit in¨. Regarding religion differences, Ali its highly interested in it, whereas Parvez is not. This creates an unbeareable tension between them because Ali is obsessed with the religion chosen by him. Such obsession repulses Parvez as this religion made Ali an disrespectful and insolent boy.

  6. Tomas Lucas, Ivan Stankiewich says:

    There are generational differences between Parvez and Ali because Parvez wants to live integrated to the English culture (He drinks alcohol, eats pork and doesn’t pray), while Ali, Parvez’s son, wants to live as a Muslim (He left his room bare, broke out with his English girlfriend, prayed five times a day). Parvez had worse worries than fanatism for the Muslim religion, at first, he thought that Ali was on drugs and asked Bettina for help, “Parvez told Bettina that he suspected Ali was on drugs”, Ali didn’t like Bettina (a prostitute) at all because of what she meant to Muslim religion.. Parvez was angry at Ali because he threw out everything Parvez had worked really hard on, over 20 hours a day, but Ali didn’t care for that, he was more interested in his religion. Parvez just wanted Ali to fit in, but Ali didn’t care for that, he thought “The problem is, you are too implicated on Western civilization. The Western materialists hate us”. At the end of the story, when Parvez starts punching Ali, he says “So who’s the fanatic now” pointing out Parvez’s fanatism towards fitting in to English society is so big, he punches his own son se he will think the same.

  7. TOTI B & ALEJO Z says:

    Parvez wanted his son Ali to integrate in British culture and society. Ali having an English girlfriend and English friends was something positive for Parvez. Ali was like any other British boy playing video and computer games, wearing fashionable clothes, and playing the guitar; he was following the consumerism trend. After a while he dumped his girlfriend, ditched all his friends and slowly started to empty out his room and belongings, he does this because of his new fanatism for religion, his father was very worried because he wasn’t religious and wanted his son to follow the British culture. His son begins criticizing his father for drinking and eating pork, things his religions forbids. Parvez would also often hang out with prostitutes and drive them around.

    This gives us a clear image that it was very worring to not follow the consumirism trend.

  8. Violeta Balbiani and Luisa Flores Piran says:

    “They made jokes about the local mullhas walking around with their caps and beards, thinking they could tell people how to live, while their eyes roved over the boys and girls in their care” (discrimination of cultures)
    “His friends, who had been so inquisitive before, now become oddly silent. They could hardly condemn the boy for his devotions” (discrimination)
    “The law of Islam would rule the world; the skin of the infidiel would burn off again and again; the Jews and Christer wouuld be routed. The West was a sink of hypocrites, adulterers, homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes.” (ethinic and racial tensions, religion and discrimination)
    “Then why is he letting a woman like you touch him like that?” (The boy speaking to Bettina) Discrimination of gender and class. Bettina s profession is a sin to him.

  9. Lucila y Juana says:

    Parvez is a Pakistani immigrant and is desperate to fit in the English society.
    “You’re not in the village now. This is England. We have to fit in”
    “But I love England”
    Ali, Parvez’s son, feels that he is not part of the English society, he feels rejected and hated by Enfglish, he does not want to be part of them.
    “How can you love something that hates you?”
    “Western materialists hate us”
    The clash of cultures and religion provokes the crisis between tha father and son. A discussion of the attitude that should be taken towards the differences that the British society offers.
    For example the possibility of drinking alcohol or eating pork.
    “They let you do almost everything in this country” Parvez phrase talking about the advantages of living in England. For Ali, Living in England was the worst thing it happened to him, the feeling of neglection affected him.
    “My Son the Fanatic” leads with this type of problems that are probably common in a immigrant family, the desire of being part of the British society clashing with the desire of being valorated an accepeted between to generations. Probably, Ali being English but looking as a Pakistani, has suffered a lot of discrimination and neglection that produced the hattress that he has towards the British.

  10. juanes says:

    1) Parvez: He ordered her to sit down and keep quiet. though she dad neither stood up nor said a word.
    This shows how Parvez ill-treated his wife, and constantly ignores her, showing Muslim gender tensions in the story.
    2) Parvez’s friends: They made jokes about the local mullahs walking around with their cops and beards, thinking they could tell people how to live, while their eyes roved over the boys and the girls in their care.
    This shows that the religion tension is present in England.
    3) Ali: ”The Western materialists hate us”. This shows how the Muslims feel towards the British and that hatred came from both sides.
    4) Ali: “Then why is he letting a woman like you touch him like that?”.
    Here we can see another case of gender discrimination from the Muslims to the woman.

  11. Agustina Subira Pilar Olaizola says:

    The protagonist of the story “my son the fanatic” wants to stop being an inmigrant and his desire is to insert himself in the British culture, “… he ordered his wife to cook pork sausages, saying to her, ´You’r not in the village now.This is England.We have to fit it’.”
    Besides, the fear of Parvez of his son becoming a drug addict, which is common among his son´s friends, reflects the differences between botch races; “He was too ashamed.And he was afraid too…”. What is more, the narrative structure also influences in this theme of the story, the desperation of Ali’s dad to triumph in this country. As the story goes on, the desperation of Parvez increases, until it exlpotes “… he dragged the boy up by the front of his shirt and hit him. The boy fell back. Parvez hit him again…” This extreme desire to fit in, demonstrate how discrimination and racial segregation has influence negatively ethnic groups.


    INTERPRETATIONS:Parvez (the father) realizes that ali (his soon) was having a different attitude, that he was changing: “ale’s unusual behaviour”. Finally it resulted that his son was praying.. “the boy was praying” “ when he was at home he prayed five times a day”. He was becoming a religion fun. And so his father become to accede to alcohol and he became violent and obsessed as his son ali was doing with religion: “ ali made a face – don’t you know that drinking alcohol is wrong?”. parvez was trying to be accepted in the british society, and he was afraid of his son not being integrated.
    Parvez asked “is there a particular event which has influenced you?” and his son answered “living in this country”. Ali wanted to respect their true religion and their traditions.

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