From names to religions to races, labels are very important for some of the people in the mixed urban environment of this novel.What kinds of liberties – or what kinds of confusions – are created by this novel's breakdown of categories and classifications?The interiors of the pandal and the way from the gate to the club will not just have placards showing the preaching of Vidyasagar, but also be decorated with pictures of AP Sen and Atul Krishna Sinha, prominent people who developed the club.Arun Banerjee, the club's president, told TOI, "The motive is to make people aware of Pandit Vidyasagar and his ideology .The vast majority of Bangladesh’s inhabitants are Bengalis, who are largely descended from Indo-Aryans who began to migrate into the country from the west thousands of years ago and who mixed within Bengal with indigenous groups of various racial stocks…. Physically they are different in appearance from their peers, but aside from this, as Irie moans, ' Everyone’s the same here’ (p. The second-generation of immigrants do not share the racialized world of their parents, because they have grown up in a world where hybridity is the norm: Everyone at Glenard Oak was at work; they were Babelians of every conceivable class and colour speaking in tongues… Raggastantis spoke a strange mix of Jamaican Patois, Bengali, Gujarati and English’ (p. The ultimate irony of the novel intends to explode Samad’s essentialism once and for all, as Magid returns from the 'homeland’ an anglophile dandy who shatters Samad’s illusions of cultural purity.(Brent Schools Report 1990: 67 different faiths, 123 different languages). 292) Millat is part of a gang called ' Raggastani… Samad’s anger at this springs out of the knowledge that he has been misled by the false notion of a pure identity: 'a real Bengali, a proper Muslim' is simply a comforting fantasy.
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The belief underlying Samad’s doggedness is revealed in a wry exchange with Archie: "I don’t eat [pork] for the same reason you as an Englishman will never truly satisfy a woman." "Why’s that? "It’s in our cultures, my friend." He thought for a minute. The reality is waved at him by Alsana, his sons, Archie and the thronging, increasingly hybrid London around him, but Samad remains stubbornly fixed.
As a result of this personal philosophy, Samad feels increasingly as though his mixed cultural identity is destroying him.
Further Thinking In this account of , history turns out to be a false friend for Samad – instead of justifying his anxious grip on his identity, it seems to expose that identity as a sham.
Does the 'history' of the book's narrative hold similar surprises for its characters, do you think?
Samad is a wannabe patriarch and his struggle to reconcile his ethnicity with his identity as a British subject causes him considerable inner turmoil and precipitates many of the main dramas of the novel.