The Buddha

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„The Buddha of Suburbia” by Hanif Kureishi :

„The Buddha of Suburbia” by Hanif Kureishi Quest for identity

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the need of belongingness & racial issues this book has some autobiographical features: some similarities between Karim and Hanif Kureishi A uthor’s father became from a wealthy Asian family, he wanted to be a writer, but instead of this, he was a civil servant. Hanif Kureishi was encouraged by him to write, in order to realize his dream. Kureishi’s mother was an English woman from a lower middle class. Author, himself, like Karim, lived in the Suburbs of London, and later he moved to the city, where he worked in the theater.

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two generations The first generation of immigrants (Haroon and Anwar) and the second generation, people already born in England (Karim and Jamila). first generation: Haroon and Anwar. For Haroon the immigrant status placed the central role in his life. It’s visible for other people, that he is DIFFERENT – he is small, has different colour of the skin, and he has very exotic style of clothing. After he became a guru, this style of clothing is more and more exotic: “He was certainly exotic (….) wearing a red and gold waistcoat and Indian pyjamas”.

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“Dad had been in Britain since 1950 – over twenty years (…) Yet still he stumbled around the place like an Indian just off the boat”. As Haroon and Anwar grow older, they seem to be more Indian. Haroon becomes a guru of Indian culture, and Anwar chooses a husband for Jamila, like it is in India. Haroon encounters racism everyday, on his way to work. “The whites will never promote us. (…) Not an Indian while there is a white man left on the earth”.

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second generation: Karim and Jamila. At the very beginning of the novel Karim articulates who he is: “I am an Englishman born and bred, almost. I am often considered to be a funny kind of Englishman, a new breed as it were, having emerged from two old histories (…) the odd mixture of continents and blood, of here and there, of belonging and not”.

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For him SUBURBS mean predictability, boredom, but there he is still an outcast. In the school, he was a subject of harsh reality of the school playground, where he was called names, for example a Curryface. For him, getting home without serious injury was a kind of a miracle. By those oppressions he is aware of his differences. But it’s not like he feels, that he is different. But rather he is made to feel different by his peers or other people, for example Hairy Back. “However many niggers there are, we don’t like it. We’re with Enoch”.

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CITY is seen as a place of hope, discovery, opportunity and excitement, where are “thousand of black people everywhere, so {he} wouldn’t feel exposed”. There, he learns (especially in the art wolrd) that he will never be able to be accepted into high society – he lacks of cultural capital and currency. Karim doesn’t identify neither with English nor with his father’s culture. He is equally prejudiced to both cultures. Karim is always reminded that he is different from others, this fact frustrates him a lot. Everyone defines him by his non-Englishness , in spite how English he feels.

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The role of Mowgli emphasizes his differences of class and race. This creates some kind of stereotype, because he always plays a different person from other . This is emphasized by Kureishi, by a character of Gene, Eleanor’s lover: “Black lover, London’s best mime, who emptied bed-pans in hospital soaps, {who} killed himself because every day, by a look, a remark, an attitude, the English told him that they hated him, they never let him forget they thought him a nigger, a slave, a lower being”. Gene committed suicide, because he couldn’t stant the instant oppressions.

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the need to belong = = the need for interpersonal relations Need of belongingness – it’s a very basic human need. 2. People construct their identities within their social context (groups, institutions, social relations) 3. Identification with other people is very important in the process of forming an identity! 4. As a consequence of postmodernism, an intense focus has been put on an individual. They are seen as separate units within a social frame. The need of belongingness is very big, but very hard to achieve by an individual.

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Karim: wants to create his own identity and he seeks many different social relations. He is very interested in the environment surrounding Eva and this leads him to sexual and emotional interest in Charile. Karim copies his clothes, style and character. He wants to fit into Charile’s world, he takes Charlie’s personality features in order to achieve the ability of closer identification his own personality.

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Haroon: while he arrived to England, he encountered dramatic changes in the class and culture. He has to adjust himself to a new social status. He chooses to answer the current exotic demands of a society fascinated by Eastern Philosophy, embracing an Indian person – The Buddha of Suburbia. By this he achieves a higher status in Britain.

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Karim can't identify with his father's cultural background, but he feels a certain connection to this, anyway. He embraces these stereotypical views on the Indian as a vehicle into the theartcial world, acknowledging that even though he might not himself identify with this indian stereotype, society as a whole does and this leaves him with little choice to follow suit if he wants to be a part of it.

The end:

The end Thank you for the attention!

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