In "My Son the Fanatic," why do you think Ali changes his mind about the West? Ali is described as having changed his opinion about life abruptly.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On some level, Ali has undergone a transformation of thought.  I think that this becomes the critical element in understanding both the effectiveness and relevance of Kurieshi's work.  At its core, the short story addresses what we, in the West, wonder regarding all of those who embrace a more orthodoxy interpretation of religion at the cost of cosmopolitan values.   If we take Ali at his own transformation, some element became definable, some "switch" was turned.  In a sense, we are like Parvez.  The opening lines of the short story convey a sense of the bewilderment and puzzlement that the father undergoes regarding his son's change.  The father does not know the basis of it, and later comes to recognize the change as being spiritual or cultural.  In his exchanges with his father, it becomes evident that an embrace of Islam from a highly Conservative point of view is the impetus for this change.  The need or the perceived need for a spiritual transcendence is what causes Ali to change his belief about the West.  His repudiation of possessions that remind him of the West, as well as his basic idea that what he now values stands in opposition of Western cultural values becomes the root of his change.  The ending of the novel, with the father who represents the West violently beating his own child with no regard, brings to light how both sets of values are limited and might not possess any sort of answer on their own.