In my English class, we have spent the last few classes reading and discussing two short stories. The stories are similar in the way that they are both shining a light on how growing up in an immigrant family can, with an emphasis on “can”, be like. The first one is “My son the fanatic”, and is about a man named Parvez, and his son Ali. Parvez notices how his son has started acting differently when he never talks to his English friends and dumps his girlfriend, who is also English. His room is tidy all the time, which it never used to be, and Parvez also sees his son throwing out clothes and other material things that he would normally have wanted to keep. He also tells his dad that it is wrong to drink and that others, along with himself, who are allegedly “pure”, would go to extreme lengths to make the world a more “pure” place. So Parvez becomes suspicious and wants to find out why his son all of a sudden has become so serious about religion.
In this short story, the son is more religious than the father and that the father has adapted to the British lifestyle, and his son has not. Or, actually it seems like the son, Ali, did adapt to the British culture since he had an English girlfriend and English friends, but that he later changed his mind about it and wanted to pursue his religion on a higher level than before. I think what could’ve happened is that Ali felt that there were still some differences between him and the English boys and that he would never be sort of “the best” at being British, as he seems like someone who is pretty stubborn and has a competitive spirit. That’s why I think that maybe he felt he could never be “British enough” but that he could really be enough only in his own religion and culture. This creates a frustration between the Parvez and Ali, as Parvez has no issue with breaking the “rules” of his own religion, and he seems to make compromises between his own culture and the British culture, to make life in Britain easier. And maybe he just doesn’t think that it is necessary to follow so many rules to be seen as “pure”. Here Ali and Pervez are not on the same page, which makes it difficult for them to understand each other’s perspectives, as expressing discontent on the way the other person lives his life would be the same as not approving of their way of life as supposed to your own.
In the novel “Free for all” we meet a father who is quote opposite from Parvez, and actually shows more resemblance to Ali from “My son the fanatic”. The father seems to have a harder time accepting the culture in the US, than his son. His son simply wants to play the guitar and be a typical American teenager, and his dad does not agree with his lifestyle. At the beginning of the novel, we are told that the father is very successful and therefore we make up this image of him as a strict man who has money and values education and proper manners. The father feels as if his son is rejecting or has forgotten the country he is from and its values. Therefore, he wants to teach him a lesson, as he hates his son’s attitude and lack of respect, compared to what would be acceptable in Pakistan. I think the father in this story has a lack of empathy and isn’t willing to see that there are different perceptions on what being successful means and that culture sometimes has to be put aside for some time in certain aspects of life in order to see that others may have different ways of doing things.