What role does Ali's mother play in the story of "My Son, the Fanatic?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that a part of the reason why we, as the reader, do not know much of the mother is because Ali's rebellion is not as staunchly aimed at her.  Ali's rebellion is geared towards his father.  It is Parvez who has embraced the West and all of the cosmopolitan trappings.  He is the one who drinks, eats pork, seeks to boast about his son's exploits at cricket, and lives, for all practical purposes, a Westernized consciousness.  It is at this that Ali seeks find difference.  Perhaps, a reason why the reader is not entirely certain of the mother's role is that she is not the animus for his rebellion, Ali's distance.  Ali seems to distinguish himself from his father, to the point where he is able to identify specific parts of the Koran that are being disgraced by his father.  Additionally, Ali's embrace of the religion is antithetical to his father's, who has little regard of his own spiritual background.  For all we know, the mother might be quite devout in her beliefs and might not arouse the level of Ali's disrespect as Parvez does.  It seems that the rebellion and the need to distance himself is something that comes from the father's ways and not the mother.  This might be the reason why we, as the reader, are not entirely sure of the function she serves in the narrative.

lale | Student

i think that maybe the author wanted to concentrate on the father/son relationship because as it says in the text they were almost like brothers and now the father can't even talk to his son anymore. it could be that the mother isn't as important to Ali or that it would have been too much for a short story to write about the mother in detail.

keks2911 | Student

Mhm..okay, you're right..

By the way the text maybe tells about the mother's attitude:
>Ali then reminded Parvez that he had ordered his wife to cook porl sausages, saying to her, "You're not in the village now. This is England. We have to fit in."<
This could either mean that she is also an Islamic and firstly didn't accept the father's order or that she is not an Islamic, but just wondered about the father's attitude,which doesn't fit to his religion.

But as you say she is almost kept out of the story.

dreiengel | Student

Well, I think for a teenager the mum plays a important role. That's why I don't understand, that she is almost kept out of the story. We don't even know which religion she has, and I think this could be really important.

keks2911 | Student

I don't think that the mother's role is important, otherwise the reader would have got more information about her. Maybe she wasn't important for Ali,too, because in "his" religion the womens' part and influence is not that big.