Funny Boy Essay

1559 words - 7 pages

Shyam Selvadurairs Funny Boy Analysis English Literature Essay
Identity involves recognition of the self. It is not static, but it constantly changes in relation to political, cultural and social events that are occurring. A child's identity is negotiable. Children are presumed innocent and naïve until they have experienced life. Their sense of identity has not been determined if they have not had experiences in which they are able to determine their relationship to and how it affects them. In narrating or privileging a child's perspective in a novel, the language the reader is presented with is simplistic and the viewpoint of the narrator is often minimalistic as it is based upon the ...view middle of the document...

The child's point of view offers a simple writing style and understanding of the novel, yet the reader is able to uncover complexities revolving around the novel. The personal and the political are intertwined in this novel as the recognition of Arjie's own sexuality, is linked with the political tensions of Sri Lanka during this time. Funny Boy breaks boundaries in it telling of the homosexuality of the young protagonist, Arjie. The story follows Arjie's awakening as a homosexual living in Sri Lanka. There are many things that Arjie does not know throughout the story, and just as Arjie is learning of these things, so is the reader. The child's curiosity is privileged here as the lessons from his father on racism and the tensions between the Tamils and the Sinhalese allow for the reader to understand the background information in the formation of Arjie's character. Selvadurai, while feeding Arjie's curiosity in response to the things he is uncertain about, is also addressing the reader and bridging the gaps of Sri Lanka's history and the social realities during the time. Arjie's realization that his lover, Shehan, is a Sinhalese is the moment when the reader is aware that he has diminished some of the boundaries that society has put in place. The innocence of Arjie as a child in need of explanations in order to understand the world around him allows for the reader to be presented with essentially both sides of the historical, political, social and cultural aspects surrounding the situation. The first explanation we receive of the differences between Tamil and Sinhalese is when Anil brings home Rhadha Aunty. When Rhada Aunty tells her mother his name, her mother immediately responds that he is Sinhalese and that she shouldn't be seen with him for what people might assume. Although Arjie is aware of this conversation, by following his desires, he is breaking boundaries of the political, cultural and social and weakening his relationship with his family by being with Shehan. The recognition that Shehan is Sinhalese occurs in the journal at the end of the novel, where Arjie is no longer a child and has experienced the world to makes adequate choices for himself knowing the consequences of his action. The reader is aware of Arjie's sexual confusion at the beginning of the novel, yet Arjie himself is unaware of this. This is characteristic of children, they know what they want, yet they do not know why they want it. Arjie knows that he wants to play with girls rather than boys, yet he isn't exactly sure why in the beginning of the novel.

In transgressing boundaries, desire seems to be the only hope of doing this. Throughout the novel, Arjie's family is persistent in 'replacing' him back in the male category, removing his involvement with girls, and encouraging his play with boys. The reader understands that Arjie's family is aware of his sexuality, or aware of what may become of his sexuality, even before Arjie himself becomes aware of it. .The...

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