In My Son the Fanatic, isn’t the author going too far in describing Ali's changes of attitude?Starting as a "perfect" student, a well educated person and a "well integrated" boy to a fanatic of a...

In My Son the Fanatic, isn’t the author going too far in describing Ali's changes of attitude?

Starting as a "perfect" student, a well educated person and a "well integrated" boy to a fanatic of a religious life that he didn't know at all in such a short time seems implausible.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not entirely sure that Kurieshi is going "too far" in displaying the change in attitudes.  There are two primary reasons for this.  The first would be that this particular generation, the one to which Ali belongs, is uniquely different from all others.  They possess the language and cultural skills that their parents did not.  At the same time, they have become aware that the singular and surface based pursuits of their parents' generation are simply that:  Surface.  Parvez's deepest anguish lies at the shame his son brings to him.  The fact that he can no longer boast about his exploits in cricket, and the shame he brings to his father in the treatment of Bettina are sources of deep anguish.  They also reflect how different father and son perceive consciousness, with the son being more attune to a different and more spiritually driven pursuit than the father, who is more driven to be accepted by the cosmopolitan setting of London than reestablishing his own roots.  Such a chasm can account for why Ali changes in such a dramatic and intense manner.  It is both a rebellion of previous generation's statements, while a statement of one's own self.  The other issue that might allow for Ali's transformation to be so pronounced is the current climate for Ali's generation might make the change even more intense.  To be "Young, Muslim, and British" carries with it a set of conditions that few others face:

Our participants are well aware that they are the products of a polarised generation. For every person in the room that evening, there are thousands of other young Muslims who are trapped in low skilled jobs or are unemployed. We now know (the statistics have only begun to reflect a breakdown according to faith) that 36% of British Muslims are leaving school with no qualifications, while a fifth of 16- to 24-year-old Muslims in Britain are unemployed. Forty per cent of British Muslims are in low skill jobs and nearly 70% of Bangladeshi and Pakistani children live in poverty. A British Muslim generation is coming of age - a third of the community is under 15 - with the experience of deprivation.  That poverty haunted the debate, and what cropped up on many of the tables was a sense of frustration at what participants perceive as the failures of their own community.

With such a condition, it is highly conceivable that Ali understood the plight that waited for him after finishing his studies in accounting.  No matter what he would accomplish, a part of him obviously understood this condition that he would be unable to escape.  The "failures" that Ali sees with Parvez and his own community could account for the intense level of change.  In this light, his transformation is not exaggerated, as much as it is a warning.  Given the July 7 London Bombings and similar actions, as well as the profiles and last words of the bombers, Kurieshi's depiction of Ali might not go too far as much as warning that "too far" is not enough in reaching out to these young people.