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The Buddha of Suburbia-Identity

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Introduction

How does the multicultural British society influence the identity of Karim in The Buddha of Suburbia? Introduction Identity is often characterized as an individual's comprehension of him or herself as a discrete, separate entity. The word comes from the Latin word "idem", which means "the same". Our identity is formed by our circle of acquaintances throughout our entire life; it's a lifelong process which consists of the development of the distinct personality of an individual under particular circumstances caused by our formation of opinion and as mentioned before, our circle of acquaintances but another influential fact is the society. It's a particular stage in the life of an individual, in where the individual posses his or her characteristics. This stage in life defines the individual to others as well as themselves. Some identities are acquired with birth whereas others are obtained throughout life. A considerable factor with reference to this identity formation is the fact, that the identity is affected by the encounters that are made throughout life. Therefore identity is not a stationary notion; it's a notion that undergoes a progressive change throughout life. The difficulty of understanding the meaning of this term, vary from individual to individual. The complexity of this term is even more difficult to deal with if the individual is from another cultural background as well as a social background which is the case in the short story The Buddha of Suburbia" by Hanif Kureishi. Karim, the protagonist in Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia is a model of individuals of this background whose identity is influenced and formed by the multicultural British society he lives in. The reason why I chose the topic "Identity" in relation to the novel "The Buddha of Suburbia" is, because I can personally identify myself with the protagonist Karim. I am also from another cultural and social background, since my family emigrated from Afghanistan into Germany, so that I was born in Germany. ...read more.

Middle

As mentioned earlier Karim spies on his father leading to him finding out that he had intercourse with Eva. By catching his father cheating on Margaret, Karim is able to convince himself of that he also can break his limits, and go against the standards of the society surrounding him, which he does, when he�s with Charlie. But another significant basis for Karim and his exploration with reference to his sexuality is also due to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 1960�s. Above-mentioned are all major factors having influence on Karim and his identity formation throughout the story. Another major factor is his sexuality. According to the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud sexuality is a part of an individual's identity formation. Karim experiences this fact through his friend Charlie, the son of Eva, as mentioned earlier "I dashed for his belt, for his fly, for his cock, and I took him out to air." Another factor that contributes to Karims identity formation is the race discrimination, experienced home at Eva "The man said to his friend: "Why has Eva brought this brown Indian here?" [...] "And has he got his camel parked outside?" "No he came on a magic carpet"13. "The Buddha of Suburbia emphasizes the banalization of "Eastern" religion in the London of 1960�s."14 The Buddha of suburbia illuminates the consequences of being torn between many binaries concerning an individual's search of identity through actions which leads to the individual crossing all responsible limits, only to find himself. As it appears from my analysis it can be difficult and really demanding to deal with the clash of cultures. The problem we are dealing with in DK concerns the second generation immigrants mainly from the Middle East and their integration in a society much more different from the one they know. The major part of the problem is due to the cultural background, which they are raised with throughout their lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

He tries and tests boundaries, prejudices and tradition. Karim is struggling with dual ethnic backgrounds, searching for something new, no matter what the others expect from him. He strives towards individuality and individual freedom to discover his true self. The novel gave me an insight into the development of a teenager's identity, someone with immigrant background, growing up in multicultural Britain. It feels, as if the author, by making a successful character out of Karim, wants to convey a positive example as proof that a change has, and is, taking place in British society and that the individual now has more freedom and choice in evolving his or her true self, than it used to be possible. Moreover he wants to show that each person is responsible for his or her identity at last, although his or her identity is influenced by many factors. Sometimes Karim appears to be an unrealistic character and to be distanced from the other more realistic characters in the text through making the protagonist to be a success and to break the negative standard. Karim grows and goes forward in his identity through his desire to look elsewhere and to achieve something for himself away from where he first starts out (the suburb). It is through the meetings that he has with other people, where he is confronted with other peoples' views and in which he can mirror himself, which he is able to grow in identity. These revelations make him more secure about what to choose for himself, his place and future. As a result of my essay I will summarize my answer to the research question. Karim, the protagonist of The Buddha of Suburbia, is influenced by various factors in multicultural Britain. On the one hand his identity is influenced by his parents. His daily life is affected by his parents' poor marriage. When he moves with his dad to London, he stands between his new family identity and his old family identity. On the other hand he feels that he can not fit in somewhere else and wants to go back to the suburbs. ...read more.

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