Last week we read the short story “My son the Fanatic” (1997) by Hanif Kureishi in class, and on Wednesday we read “Free for all” (1999) by Moin Ashraf. Both these short stories are about cultural differences and how this can affect the families from other cultures.
The father-son relationship in “My son the Fanatic”, is not very close. The son has changed a lot and have rediscovered the old values from Pakistan and Islam. While on the other hand, his father has embraced the new values of England. In the story, the father complains that he only wants a “normal” teenage boy. In contrast to his son, who feels alienated from the society and is having difficulty finding his identity.
The father-son relationship in the other short story “Free for all”, is not close either. However, here it is the father who still holds on to the old values from his home country. While the son has grown up with the values in America. The father is mad at his son for playing loud music and not wearing formal clothes. He sees this as him not respecting the elders in the family. The son on the other had has grown up in a society where this kind of behaviour is normal.
As we can see the stories are different, however there are several similarities. In the stories the fathers try to convince their sons of their views. First and foremost, they try to convince their sons to share their worldview. Secondly, they want their sons to study hard and have successful lives. In the end of both stories the sons stand their grounds and say that they want to be themselves. The fathers, who don’t get things their way, end up beating their sons.
I think the way the conflict was solved by the fathers in these short stories was way too simplified. In addition, they are not viewing their sons as individuals with their own feelings and independent thoughts. The relationships between father and son is too professional, there is no love or compassion. To conclude, I do not agree with the way these fathers treated their sons. We should all be tolerant and try to understand how other people think and feel even if we don’t agree.