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How can you describe post-colonial influences on individual's identity in Britain in...

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mandjare7 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 3, 2011 at 6:00 AM via web

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How can you describe post-colonial influences on individual's identity in Britain in Hanif Kureishi's " The Buddha of Suburbia?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 3, 2011 at 7:29 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the most evident post-colonial influences present in Kurieshi's work is the role of race and racism in the modern setting.  Karim struggles with understanding how multiple forces converge and diverge in forming his identity.  For Karim, race and class are two of many elements that play critical roles in forming his identity, going to London, pursuing the theatre, and determining who he is and how he shall live.  The opening words of the narrative that reflect Karim is "almost entirely English" helps to bring to light the post-colonial condition where individuals have difficulty identifying who they are without complexities being embraced.  At the same time, the manner in which Karim views his father and his conception of self is another post-colonial element in the novel.  The gulf between the generation that emigrated to the new world and their children who were born of it is evident in the different lives they lead.  The father's embrace of both the stereotypical bureaucratic job in the suburbs and then his role as the "ethnic' in social settings is contrasted with Karim, who uses this as a point of divergence in seeking to find his own identity.  From the historical standpoint, the novel also embraces the post-colonial attitude with wondering about the future.  In the novel's context, the tide of Thatcherism is becoming more evident.  This stress on Conservative values and direct challenges with "the other" causes Karim to possess even more questions and doubt about who he is and how he shall be in both his own skin and the social setting's perception of him.  These are all elements of post-colonialism in the Kurieshi's work.

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