The short story “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi was published in 1994 and is probably meant to be read as contemporary to the time of publishing. This is also indicated by references to the computer that Parvez bought for Ali (p. 193, ll. 23-25) and the Sylvester Stallone movie that Parvez is watching with his two friends in the taxi office (p. 194, l. 11).

The events take place over several days …


Physical setting

In “My Son the Fanatic”, the events take place in various locations. In his home, Parvez finds himself looking for clues in Ali’s room, which had begun to look tidier than usual (p. 193, ll. 5-6). Soon, the room becomes almost empty: “the room was practically bare. Even the unhappy walls bore marks where Ali’s pictures had been removed.” (p. 193, ll. 26-28). This is symbolic of the way in which Ali has rejected the elements of Western material culture that he had previously embraced.

At home, Parvez later observes Ali and searches his room again, looking for signs that he is using drugs (p. 195, ll. 16-22). One of the tense discussions between Parvez and Ali also takes place at home: “One night, having ensured there was no alcohol on his breath, Parvez sat down at the kitchen table with Ali.” (p. 200, ll. 2-3)

There are also references to the hall (p. 195, l. 40) and the bathroom (p. 195, l. 3); Ali is later shown praying in his r…


Social setting

The main character of the short story is Parvez, a first-generation Punjabi immigrant living in England. Parvez was raised a Muslim in his native town of Lahore, the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab, but he does not follow any religion. Instead, he believes that life is made for enjoyment without hurting others. He also believes that there is no afterlife, but that something of him will live on through his children and grandchildren. Furthermore, Parvez enjoys the freedom that he finds in England – he drinks, he gambles, he eats pork, and has a close relationship with a prostitute.

The social setting is also constructed through the Punjabi community in London that Parvez lives in. The story shows him spending most of his time with his taxi-driver colleag…

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