Outer characterisation

The short story “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi contains a few details about Parvez’s outer characterisation.

Parvez grew up in Lahore, the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab (p. 196, ll. 10-11), which shows us that he is a first-generation immigrant in England. He is a taxi driver, working with other taxi drivers who are Punjabi as well. Parvez’s workplace is also a small community, where he socializes with other men like him. Furthermore, because his son is supposed to be preparing for his college exams (p. 197, ll. 3-4), and he has worked as a taxi driver for 20 years (p. 193, l. 32), Parvez is probably a man in his 40s.

Innter characterisation

Parvez’s inner characterisation is constructed through the narrator’s description of the events, of Parvez’s thoughts and emotions, and through the dialogue included in the story. It is also built progressively as the story unfolds. At the beginning of the story, he is only portrayed as a father who is worried about his son’s recent changes in behaviour.

Parvez's first reactions to Ali's changes in behaviour

Parvez is initially pleased when he notices that Ali’s room becomes tidier – this means that Ali is “outgrowing his teenage attitudes.” (p. 193. l. 7-8). This suggests Parvez thought that it was time for Ali to do so. This is also suggested further in the story, as Parvez asks himself: “Was it asking too much for Ali to get a good job now, marry the right girl and start a family?” (p. 194, ll. 5-7)

Parvez becomes worried, but also angry at his son once he finds out that Ali is throwing away his possessions (p. 193, ll. 8-11). The narrator gives a straightforward explanation: Parvez has worked hard to provide Ali with a good education and get him everything he needed, because he wanted him to avoid taking the wrong path: “He has always been aware of the pitfalls which other men’s sons had fallen into in England.” (p. 193, ll. 20-21). This also implies that Parvez feels Ali is symbolically rejecting his efforts by throwing away his belongings. At the same time, Parvez’s thoughts indicate that, on some level, he believes England is a country where young men can be easily corrupted.

Parvez becomes increasingly worried, which makes him drink more: “he went more to the whisky bottle, even when he was at work.” (p. 193, ll. 29-30).

Moreover, Parvez’s ultimate happiness and sense of success rely on Ali having a good job and starting a family: “Once this happened, Parvez would be happy. His dreams of doing well in England would have come true.” (p. 194, ll. 7-9). This further explains why Parvez is angry at Ali, as he feels Ali is u...

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