The language of the short story “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi is generally easy to follow and understand. However, words like “surreptitiously” (p. 193, l. 1) (secretively), “truanting” (p. 194, l. 2) (being absent without permission) and “usury” (p. 199, l. 14) (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 narrator uses contractions: “they’d lie back” (p. 196, l. 27), “couldn’t” (p. 197, l. 21), etc., giving readers a sense of familiarity with the characters and conveying their state of mind. Contractions are more often encountered in the dialogue, which give it authenticity and help make the characters more relatable.
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.” (p. 193, ll. 5-6); “Soon the room was practically bare.” (p. 193, ll. 26-27).
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.” (p. 193, ll. 36-38). 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 had attached a piece of string to the ceiling and tied it to Parvez’s hair, so that if his head fell forward, he would instantly awake.” (p. 196, ll. 12-14). With the help of this description, readers can imagine that this method of discipline had been painful and humiliating for Parvez.
Bettina is also described in a visual manner, which reminds read...