Identity In Funny Boy And Running In The Family English Literature Essay

Searching for individuality is large subject in Postcolonial surveies. Identity or the sense of belonging dramas a major function in everyone ‘s lives. Identity tells us who we truly are and where we have come from. Identity can be either positive or negative. It gives us the sense of pride in being who we are. If we do non place ourselves with our milieus or the people we come in contact with, we are lost. We feel as if we do non belong at that place and therefore we feel as if we have lost our individuality. Actually, the hunt for individuality is an on-going g procedure and there is no stoping for it. Many would make anything to happen their individuality and to seek for the topographic point where they belong.

In both Funny Boy and Running in the Family, the hunt for individuality is the chief subject. These novels bring forth the challenges that the chief characters face in the hunt for individuality. The scene of these two novels is in Sri Lanka. However, Funny Boy ‘s Arjie faced negative challenges thrown at him whereas Runing in the Family ‘s storyteller ‘s ( Ondaatje ) journey of self-discovery is more towards the positive side. In this paper, I will the journey of self designation by the supporters of the both novels that I mentioned above.

Need essay sample on Identity In Funny Boy And Running... ?We will write a custom essay sample specifically for you for only $12.90/page

order now

In Funny Boy, we are exposed to the history of Sri Lanka, Arjie ‘s fatherland. A state like Sri Lanka that has merely gained independency from the colonisers strives to construct and recapture its ain individuality which was stolen by the colonizing powers. However, to organize a unitary individuality is non easy because Sri Lanka is made up of different ethnicities and spiritual beliefs. The history of racial struggle between the Tamils and the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka plays an of import function in Arjie ‘s life. The competition between Sinhalese ( Buddhist ) and Tamil ( Hindu ) dwellers of Sri Lanka is caused by the differences in faith and usage. Salgado argues that “ the connexion between linguistic communication and ethnicity which substantiate the distinct cultural markers of “ Sinhala ” and “ Tamil ” , was really much the merchandise of British Orientalism, and was embraced by the Sinhalese who stood to derive from it ” ( 12-13 ) .

The Tamil minority from India migrated to Sri Lanka between the third century BC and thirteenth century AD whereas the Indo-Aryan in who migrated in the fifth century BC created the Sinhala population in Sri Lanka. Since, the Sinhalese are more in population compared to the Tamils ; they hold much of the political power. For so long,

Sri Lanka has been under the Western powers like Portuguese and British before it gained independency in 1948, with both Sinhalese and Tamils unifying their forces.

Somehow, this integrity did non last long because the Sinhalese instantly assumed power and began to marginalise the Tamils. They began to handle the Tamils so severely till the Tamils had to fight to do their voice heard. The struggle reached its extremum in 1956 when the Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike declared Sinhala as the national linguistic communication and when Buddhism was declared as the official faith ; the Tamils grew angry.

Arjie ‘s male parent says in Funny Boy, when asked about the public violences, “ Sinhala wanted to do Sinhala the lone national linguistic communication, and the Tamils did non like this. So there was a public violence and many Tamils were killed ” ( 61 ) . The Tamils after much hurting and agony from denial of rights begin to contend to set up their ain state and this is apparent in Funny Boy. “ There was a group inA JaffnaA called the Tamil Tigers. They wanted a separate state and the Sinhalese were really angry about this. Ammachi frequently talked about the Tigers. She was on their side and declared that if they did acquire a separate province, which they would name “ Eelam ” , she would be the first to travel and populate in it. Father told her she was huffy. This made Ammachi even more angry and they had many differences about the Tigers ” . ( 61 )

These political and racist power struggles to a great extent act upon many chapters in this novel and particularly when it reaches the flood tide in the last chapter, “ Riot Journal: An Epilogue ” . In “ Pigs Ca n’t Fly ” , Arjie clashes with his cousin sister Tanuja and disagrees with the common societal norm which forbids him from playing feminine games with misss. In “ Radha Aunty ” , Radha ‘s and Anil ‘s love state of affairs is about similar to Romeo and Juliet love narrative. Radha is Tamil and Anil is a Sinhala and they are forbidden to acquire married because they belong to different faith. “ In See No Evil, Hear No Evil ” , Daryl and Nalini enterprise to expose the corruptness of the authorities, a bootless attempt in a corrupt and loaded society. “ In Small Choices ” , Arjie ‘s male parent and Jegan had to conflict against the racial stereotyping and force, while in “ The Best School of All ” , Arjie and Shehan both defy the authorization of the principal named Black Tie. At last, in the “ Epilogue ” the struggle between the Sinhalese and Tamils got worst which is the beginning of the civil war.

Furthermore, binary resistances the “ ego ” and the “ other ” exists in every chapter of this novel in a signifier of pigeonholing every individual in their ain class. Ania Loomba says that, “ pigeonholing involves a decrease of images and thoughts to a simple manageable signifier ; instead than simple ignorance or deficiency of ‘real ‘ cognition, it is a method of treating information. The map of stereotypes is to perpetuate an unreal sense of difference between ‘self ‘ and ‘other ‘ ( 55 ) . In Funny Boy, Arjie ‘s grandma Ammachi can non accept Anil because she can non see him beyond the stereotype. She can non see Anil for more than merely a Sinhala. “ What did I state you? She was acquiring a lit from a Sinhalese. Merely a Sinhalese would be irreverent plenty to offer an single miss a lift ” ( 58 ) .

Society expects its people to take sides and in return they will be protected consequently. Conformity makes person experience safe and it ensures one ‘s endurance. In a power battle, when one party has the upper manus claim on the state and confirm other minorities will be marginalized. In the Empire Writes Back, Bill Ashcoft et Al claims that “ in post-colonial societies, the participants are frozen into a hierarchal relationship in which the oppressed is locked into a place by the false moral high quality which is reinforced when necessary by the of physical force ” ( 172 ) .

In “ Small Choices ” Arjie ‘s male parent explained the things Tamils might acquire in problem with in which the Sinhalese will confront no job.

“ When my male parent had finished associating the incident, Amma said, “ You should hold taken Jegan ‘s side. After all, he is more of import than the drudge. ”

“ As Tamils we must step carefully, ” my male parent replied. “ Jegan has to larn that. Even I have to circumspect when I ‘m speaking to the staff. If I was Sinhala, like Sena, I could state and make whatever I liked. ”

Amma sighed. “ It ‘s so pathetic, ” she said.

“ What to make? One has to be realistic. ” ( 190 ) .

When the minorities do non hold equal rights as the bulk, this will take to disruption and disaffection in their ain state. This will ensue in retribution and blood feud:

“ You know, ” Sonali said, “ Sometimes I wish I was a Sinhala or a alien. ”

“ I do n’t, ” Diggy said. He glared at us once more. “ I ‘m proud to be Tamil. If

those damn sodomites come here, I’llaˆ¦ ” ( 196 )

Diggy ‘s reaction is apprehensible and it ‘s called revenge. His reaction is much similar to the reaction of the Tamil Tigers. Tamil Tigers are consists largely of immature people who are unable to set up with Sinhala demands and favoritisms.

Society draws a line between ‘us ‘ and ‘them ‘ so that people must corroborate to either side, no affair how pathetic it may look. This applies to gender stereotyping every bit good. When asked why Arjie can non play with his cousin sisters, his female parent answers, “ It does n’t matteraˆ¦Life is full of stupid things and sometimes we merely have to make them ” ( 20 ) . So what will go for those who refuse non to belong to merely one class? What if they exist in a 3rd infinite ; in between? In Arjie ‘s instance, he belongs to the Tamil minority every bit good as in homosexual community. Homosexuality is non tolerated in Sri Lanka and hence Arjie is marginalized twice than an mean Sri Lankan. Hence, it will be harder for Arjie to experience recognized and to hold a sense of belonging.

However, there many case in Funny Boy where the characters try to withstand the norm of life and societal regulations to populate their life their ain lives. This is apparent in Arjie ‘s soliloquy below.

How was it that some people got to make up one’s mind what was right or non, merely or

unjust? It had to make with who was in charge ; everything had to make with who

held power and who did n’t. if you were powerful like Black Tie or my

male parent you got to make up one’s mind what was right or incorrect. If you were like Shehan

or me you had no pick but to follow what they said. But did we ever

hold to obey? Be it non possible for people like Shehan and me to be

powerful excessively? ” ( 274 )

Most of the clip, the characters who decide non to follow the societal regulations or mundane norms are secluded and alienated by their household and state and people. For an illustration, Aunt Doris, the manager of the phase drama Arjie was involved in chose to travel against her Burgher household ‘s wants and married a Tamil adult male. This of class ended her relationship with her household. Even Arjie, after queering his principal and recognize who he is and who he wanted to be with, thought to himself,

“ As I gazed at Amma, I felt a sudden unhappiness. What had happened between

Shehan and me over the last few yearss had changed my relationship with her

everlastingly. I was no longer a portion of my household in the same manner. I now

inhabited a universe they did n’t understand and into which they could n’t

follow me ” . ( 285 )

Here Arjie is speaking about his sexual waking up but his feelings besides apply to those who made picks that alienate them from the people and topographic points they belong to.

However, to Homi Bhabha the 3rd infinite gives people like Arjie a opportunity to make a new individuality. This 3rd infinite allows them to exceed their place and travel against those suppress and oppress them. It gives them power and freedom to exceed boundaries society regulations. They get the best of both universes. It gives them self authorization to travel on in life and it ‘s a topographic point where the can voice out their sentiments. Most of all the 3rd infinite gives them sense of belonging and individuality.

“ The 3rd infinite is a manner of articulation, a manner of depicting a productive and non simply brooding, infinite that engenders new possibility. It is an ‘interruptive, interrogative, and enunciative ‘ infinite of new signifiers of cultural significance and productive film overing the restriction of bing boundaries and naming into inquiry established classifications of civilization and individuality ” ( Bhabha, 1994 )

Before Arjie is even cognizant of his “ inclinations ” , his household would hold makes certain that any un-stereotypical gender fancy would hold been eradicated by his household. His male parent who was afraid that Arjie might turn out “ amusing ” forbids him to play “ bride-bride ” with his cousin sisters. Well, on the other manus when Arjie plays with male childs he was called a “ girlie male child ” . This separates him from the possibility of being a miss or a male child. Gender stereotypes are enforced by households and society to demarcate the separate universes of male childs and misss. This leaves Arjie “ caught between the male childs ‘ and the misss ‘ universes, non belonging or wanted either ” ( 39 ) . His exclusion from both parties suggests us that he inhabits some 3rd infinite between these two. This 3rd infinite is addressed as “ amusing ” and it has a black intension. Harmonizing to Gopinath, “ disputing gendered infinites in this novel which is portrayed by the chief character. This is because he allows the “ interior ” infinite to be something more than a site of gender understanding. He allows gender and fantasy drama. And by making this he “ reveal [ s ] how non heteronormative incarnations, desires, and pleasances surface within even the most heteronormative of infinites ” ( 170-171 ) .

Throughout the whole book, we follow Arjie ‘s journey turning up and trying to seek for his individuality. Arjie ‘s hunt for individuality is similar to Sri Lanka ‘s ain research for individuality amidst the warring ethnics. If the focal point is merely among the Tamils and Sinhalese, what about the homophiles, Burgesss and Muslims? Are n’t they portion of Sri Lanka as good? Even though all of them are different in many ways, they yearn for a topographic point to name place where they can be safe and unrecorded without persecution.

Funny Boy besides puts the narrative of the mundane people of Sri Lanka in the limelight. It does n’t concentrate on one party but it focuses more on the battle these people went through to populate in a Sri Lanka they all own. “ It is non about happening a balance between your individualities, or seeking to specify within a peculiar 1, ” Selvadurai explained. Rather, he said “ it is about being open-minded ” and “ being accepting of how others define you ” ( … /shyam_selvadurai_funny_boy_on_campus ) .

In Runing in the Family, Michael Ondaatje narrates the quest to seek about his male parent by “ re-conceptualizing ” the past and piecing up the fragments of his household history. Ondaatje hunts for his individuality by retracing back his household ‘s yesteryear, particularly his male parent in Sri Lanka.

“ During certain hours, at a certain old ages in our lives, we see ourselves as

leftovers from the earlier coevalss that were destroyed. So our occupation

becomes peace with enemy cantonments, extinguish the pandemonium at the terminal of

Jacobean calamities, and with ‘the clemency of distance ‘ write

histories ” ( 179 ) .

The model that Ondaatje uses is a fictionalized memoir. This allows Ondaatje to make his ain signifier of world and his ain truths. This enables him to dispute boundaries between fiction and world.

Besides that, Ondaatje explores the autobiographical ego and in his instance, the quest for Mervin Ondaatje is an of import “ roundabout way ” in his hunt for his ain individuality. He uses the technique of seeking about the other ( his male parent ) so that he can happen his ain individuality. As Marlene Kadar points out, composing about life is “ the site of the other, and this other is ‘autobiographical ‘ in one sense, and non at all in another ” ( 153 ) .When Ondaatje is seeking profoundly about his household ‘s and male parent ‘s roots he begins to determine his ain roots. At the terminal of the book it is revealed that Ondaatje is the mirror image of his male parent. “ One could surely claim that the terminal of the narrative is merely the beginning of the find of the other ( i.e. the male parent ) through the ego ( i.e. the storyteller ) ” ( Talking One ‘s Truth: Reading, 3 ) .

In Runing in the Family, Ondaatje uses the extract of household calamities, their life play, heat and love to link the points and build his individuality. He includes both the populace and private when he researches about his household yesteryear. By making so, he is able to see the connexions between his household and his colonial heritage. As Patricia Hampl comments,

“ the truth memoir has to offer is non neatly opposite from fiction ‘s truth.

Its methods and wonts are different, and it is possibly a more perverse

genre than novel: It seems to be about an single ego, but it is revealed

as a minion of memory which belongs non merely to the personal universe but to

public kingdom ” ( 205 ) .

Sri Lanka is a state dwelling of a complex societal web because it is a transnational state which has many national and cultural individualities. Ondaatje acknowledges Sri Lanka ‘s individuality as intercrossed and “ creolized ” nature. This about similar to Ondaatje ‘s household background:

“ Every 1 was mistily related and had a Sinhala, Tamil, Dutch,

British and Burgher blood in them traveling in back many

coevalss. There was a big societal spread between this circle and

the Europeans and English who were ne’er portion of Sri lankan

community. The English were seen as transients, prig, and

racialists and were rather separate from those who had intermarried

and who lived for good. My male parent ever claimed to be a

Ceylon Tamil, though that was likely more valid about three

centuries earlier ” ( 41 ) .

However, there is a tenseness between Ondaatje ‘s enterprise to reunite him with his household and to maintain a distance from his household so that he is able to interrupt through his household ‘s history from different points of position. It is as if when Ondaatje runs in with his household, he is besides running off from his household. The “ running ” aids the writer in a more complex hunt for his individuality because it allows him to detect his individuality in different signifiers. Here, Ondaatje is making history while roll uping informations, fragments of both Sri Lanka ‘s and household ‘s histories.

As to make full in the spreads in his individuality, he uses myth to supply accounts and to be as closer to the “ truth ” of that clip and closer to the truth of his household. By researching his state of birth, he sees it as “ the other ” that he is invariably seeking for. He is both the insider and the foreigner who speaks for both the fringy and the cardinal: “ I am the alien. I am the profligate who hates the alien ” ( 65 ) . Here Ondaatje represents the immigrants, in-migration and civilization. “ The model of fictionalized memoir allows both authors to talk their psyches ‘ truth ” ( cf.Hampl, 203 ) .

The hunt of individuality is a procedure where there is a demand to trust on the national individuality and household individualities. It ‘s like you can non runaway from where you belong because they somehow make you who you are. Arjie and his household had to go forth Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka was no longer safe to be their place and it was no longer where they belong whereas, Ondaatje has to come back to Sri Lanka because that is where he can happen his individuality through his household ‘s history. Even though, Arjie and his household had to run to Canada to last, they are still Sri Lankans and are portion of that state. Arjie ‘s male parent sent Arjie to a different school so that Arjie wo n’t turn out “ amusing ” , Arjie found Shehan who strengthen his gender. When it comes to Ondaatje, even though he is settled in Toronto, Canada, he has to travel back to his birth topographic point to happen his individuality. He even has dreams of traveling back to Sri Lanka. At last, one had to acknowledge that the chief portion of their individuality depends on where you are born and where you came from whether you are accepting it or non. This is apparent in Shyam Selvadurai ‘s Funny Boy and Michael Ondaatje ‘s Running in the Family.

Work Cited

Ashcroft, B. , A Griffiths, G. andA Tiffin, H.A The Empire Writes Back.A New York: Routeledge, 1994.

Bhabha, H.K. ( 1994 ) . The Location of Culture. London.Routledge

Gopinath, Gayatri. Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures.Durham: Duke UP, 2005.

Hampl, Patricia. I Could State You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory. New

York ; London: Norton, 1999.

Kadar, Marlene. “ Whose Life Is It Anyhow? Out of the Bathtub and into the

Narrative. ” Essays on Life Writing: From Genre to Critical Practice. Ed.

Marlene Kadar. Toronto: Uracil of T Press, 1992. 152-161.

Loomba, Ania.A Colonialism/Postcolonialism. 2ndA Edition.A New York: Routeledge, 2005.A

Ondaatje, Michael. Runing in the Family. 1982. NCL erectile dysfunction. Toronto: McClelland & A ; Stewart, 1993.

Salgado, Minoli. “ Writing Sri Lanka, Reading Resistance: Shyam Selvadurai ‘s Funny Boy and A. Sivanandan ‘s When Memory Dies ” . The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 39:1 ( 2004 ) : 5-18.

Selvadurai, Shyam.A Funny Boy.A United States: Harcourt Brace, 1997… Texts/54654A -A CachedA -A Similar % 20Rothgerber.pdfA -A Similar … /shyam_selvadurai_funny_boy_on_campus



Get your custom essay sample

Let us write you a custom essay sample

from Essaylead

Hey! So you need an essay done? We have something that you might like - do you want to check it out?

Check it out