My Son the Fanatic Questions and Answers
by Hanif Kureishi

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What is the role of Bettina in the short story "My Son the Fanatic"? 

Bettina's character in "My Son the Fanatic" is a symbol for Western society, and her friendship with Parvez can be seen as both beneficial and harmful. In the eyes of Parvez, Bettina represents the lenient social expectations of the Western world that allows him to confide and become friends with another woman. For his son, Bettina represents a corrupting force of sin and greed, and he cannot forgive his father for becoming acquainted with her.

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The short story "My Son the Fanatic" by Hanif Kureishi tells of a father named Parvez who observes that his son Ali is changing. They are originally from Lahore in Pakistan, but for the past 20 years Parvez has been driving a taxi in England. Ali has been cleaning up his room, getting rid of his possessions, growing a beard, and praying regularly. He wants to give up plans for a career as an accountant and instead work with poor, imprisoned Muslims. Parvez has adapted well to his life in England. Contrary to strict Muslim laws, he eats pork, drinks alcoholic drinks and allows Bettina, a prostitute, to ride in his taxi. Ali criticizes him for all of these things.

Parvez does not see Bettina as an impure woman. To him she represents a friend and a confidante. He looks forward to conversing with her, and he tells her what is troubling him about his son. At first, after speaking with other taxi drivers, he thinks that the problem might be that Ali is taking drugs. Bettina tells Parvez what to...

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