My Son the Fanatic Questions and Answers
by Hanif Kureishi

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Is the situation between the father and the son in "My Son, the Fanatic" by Hanif Kureishi a typical conflict in immigrant families?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a couple of elements at play here.  On one hand, indeed, there is a generational antagonism at play here.  Parvez and Ali are on opposite ends of the generational schism, but are also on the oppositional ends of the value spectrum.  It is at this point where one can see that collision between both be a bit more than traditional "father/ son" dynamic.  Consider the responses that Ali gives to Parvez.  The assertion that Western studies is not as religious as Eastern studies as well as the dinner scene where Ali relates to Parvez that the father has sinned against the Koran in several ways.  This might be generational, but given the spiritual dynamic of the critique, as well as the fact that the father's lifestyle and background have been ones that have devalued the role of religion and spirituality, it seems to indicate a collision of value sets at play.  This helps to heighten the tension between them, to the point where the escalation goes beyond father and son.  In the traditional generational gap situation, there is rejection on the basis of age and lack of insight into the other's condition.  In the dynamic of Parvez and Ali, there is not only rejection, but repudiation on the basis of immorality and offense against God.  That seems to move it to another level that goes beyond what would be typical "father/ son" dynamic.  Finally, I would say that the fact that the son sells everything that is reminiscent of his past and, by extension, Parvez's present represents a level of opposition that makes this dynamic different than that of a traditional parent/ child configuration.

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himbeerchen | Student

The situation between father and son in "My son the fanatic is surely no typical conflict situation in my opinion,
because this would mean that most of immigrated fathers would have to deal with fanatic beliefs of one of their members.

Of course there are certain parallels to possible real-life conflicts. I could imagine very well that there exist fathers who work hard to allow their son(s) a better life than they live themselves,
which includes that they have a simple job but want to give their best for their son(s). Just like Parvez.

In general I think that actually there are most cases where the second generation is rebellious against the traditions of the first generation, than where this generation wants to feel part of the first generation culture. I think most of times they want to be accepted and integrated, and not to be "against" the culture of the place where they live.

jenni91 | Student

I think the clash of culture is often the reason for conflicts that might occur within immigrant families because adapting to a new country and culture and turn it into one´s new home is very difficult, especially for the parents, whereas the children try to find their own way into society. But I also believe that this kind of conflict is not very likely and that the children would rather start a revolt against their parents

blubb | Student

I believe the story shows a conflict that exists in many immigrant families, but fortunately it doesn't always go this far. The main conflict of many immigrant kids is that they want to find an identity somewhere between the two cultures without anyone else being disappointed. Therefore they might have arguments with their parents or they don't have so much to do with eacht other anymore, but the sítuation shown in the story occurs rather rarely I think. It is the minority of young immigrants that tend to become radical fudamentalists. Therfore I believe that part of the conflict between Ali and Parvez is typical, but not the whole situation.