My Son the Fanatic

by Hanif Kureishi

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I hope that you can help with my homework! I have some questions that are difficult for me. Its about the story "My Son The Fanatic." a) What has Parvez done to secure his son a good life in England? b) How has the son reacted to this in the past? c) What is attractive to Parvez about his job? d) What is Parvez dream of doing well in England?

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a)To answer this question, try to think about the kinds of things fathers do to secure a better life for their children. This can be a little difficult if you are not a father; however, you can still answer this question by referring to what you know of the fathers you see on a daily basis. Then, refer to the story to see if any of your observations correspond to the text. If I may say so, the sort of things good fathers do are pretty universal.

Remember that Parvez is an immigrant. Many immigrants  deeply cherish the economic and political freedoms accorded to them in their adopted country, and Parvez is no exception. He is intent on working hard to secure a better future for his family. So, the economic perspective is key. We can see this in the text.

And so, for Ali, he had worked long hours and spent a lot of money paying for his education as an accountant. He had bought him good suits, all the books he required, and a computer. 

Parvez has worked long hours in order to afford a good education for Ali. To Parvez, success in the academic arena will lead to better economic opportunities and a good life for his son.

b)This question has a key word: 'past.' So, in order to answer this question, we have to figure out what is different about Ali at present and then find a contrast to that. From the text, we can see that Ali has given away many of his possessions, has taken to praying five times a day, and has resorted to outright rudeness to his father when questioned about his activities. This state of affairs is distressing to Parvez, so we have to ask ourselves how Ali's behavior was different before.

Instead of the usual tangle of clothes, books, cricket bats, video games, the room was becoming neat and ordered; spaces began appearing where before there had been only mess. Initially Parvez had been pleased: his son was outgrowing his teenage attitudes. But one day, beside the dustbin, Parvez found a torn bag which contained not only old toys, but computer disks, video tapes, new books and fashionable clothes the boy had bought just a few months before. Also without explanation, Ali had parted from the English girlfriend who used to come often to the house. His old friends had stopped ringing.

From this passage, we can see that this is the way Ali used to live. His room used to resemble that of a typical teenager's, and he possessed the usual items many teenagers owned. From this passage, we can see that Ali accepted his father's sacrifices as a matter of course. In other words, he took them for granted; he held the usual 'teenage attitudes' and enjoyed the typical life of a teenager in a free society. He lived this way until he chose to act differently.

c)To answer this question, look at the benefits inherent in Parvez' job:

Parvez had been a taxi driver for twenty years. Half that time he'd worked for the same firm. Like him, most of the other drivers were Punjabis. They preferred to work at night, the roads were clearer and the money better. They slept during the day, avoiding their wives. Together they led almost a boy's life in the cabbies' office, playing cards and practical jokes, exchanging lewd stories, eating together and discussing politics and their problems.

Parvez finds his job attractive because he can choose to drive at night when the roads are clearer and the pay better. In other words, the most attractive thing about his job is the freedom to choose when he will work. His job also affords him other benefits, and this is described in the text above.

d)To answer this question, we will try to ascertain what Parvez's philosophy is. Usually, our philosophy is greatly affected by our background. Parvez has a great love for his adopted country because he gets to decide his fate there; it is not decided for him by religious leaders. If you look at the text, you can see that Parvez's bad experience with religion has forever left a bad taste in his mouth. So, his dream of doing well in England must center on his philosophy about life. We can see this in the text. Parvez' dream of doing well centers on his desire to enjoy life to the fullest and to leave a good legacy for his descendants before he dies.

In his view this life was all there was and when you died you rotted in the earth. 'Grass and flowers will grow out of me, but something of me will live on ... 'In other people.'...'But while I am here on earth I want to make the best of it.'


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