Language

The language of the short story “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi is generally easy to follow and understand. However, words like “surreptitiously” (secretively), “truanting” (being absent without permission) and “usury” (unethical loans with high interest rates) are less common and thus more difficult to understand.

The choice of words indicates a fairly formal style of writing. However, sometimes, the narrato…

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Imagery

Imagery plays an important part in the story, as it often illustrates the setting and helps the narrator give more details about the characters.

For example, the narrator describes Ali’s room, which also illustrates how Ali distances himself from material possessions: “spaces began appearing where before there had been only mess.” ; “Soon the room was practically bare.”

Imagery also plays an important part in explaining Parvez’s life outside his home: he and his colleagues sit in the cabbie’s office “playing cards and practical jokes, exchanging lewd stories, eating together and discussing politics and their problems.”. This creates the sense that Parvez’s workplace is, in a way, a second family, where he can be free to be himself, with other men like him.

Imagery is also used to explain Parvez’s rejection of religion: “the Moulvi…

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Metaphors and similes

At the beginning of the story, Parvez is unable to talk to Ali because he is afraid of his “sharp tongue”. This metaphor illustrates Ali’s critical attitude, which Parvez also perceives as hurtful. Moreover, he feels like his son is merely eccentric. This is conveyed through a simile: “Parvez felt his son’s eccentricity as an injustice.”

The “pitfalls which other men’s sons had fallen into in England” is a metaphor meant to show that Parvez …

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Antithesis and juxtaposition

The short story presents the deteriorating relationship between Parvez and Ali. To explain and enhance their conflict, the author uses antithesis (two opposites put together for a contrasting effect) and presents them as opposites of each other.

For example, Parvez wants his son to be an accountant, because he has been preparing for years and it is a well-paid job. In contrast, Ali does not believe material possessions are important (shown by the fact that he throws away his belongings), believes Western education is anti-religious, and rejects the corrupt world of accountants. This illustrates their opposing beliefs.

Parvez cannot understand Ali’s religious beliefs, because he has avoided all religions since he w…

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Personification and rhetorical questions

The author of the short story uses personification to create a vivid setting but also to convey the characters’ state of mind. For example, the narrator states that “spaces began appearing” in Ali’s room. This shows Parvez’s limited perception of what is happening to Ali – because he does not know the reason for which Ali is emptying his room, the room seems to change by itself.…

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