Student or Learner
These two characters share a lot of common characteristics. They both embody the archetypal migrant living in exile. After living in England for several decades, they both realize that migrating to England was a mistake. They both work a lot and never really got the chance to really discover the culture and country they are living in.
Though they hardly formulate their desires to return to their original countries, their attitudes reveal a deep nostalgia for it. Stein remarks that “returning is related to seeking an earlier state or position, to giving in to nostalgia and a yearning for home. It is encumbered by the weight of tradition”1, which echoes Samad’s and Anwar’s grievous dilemmas. Their home countries continu to exist only in their imaginations in a highly idealized form. They seem to ‘‘be returning internally to India, or at last to be resisting the English here.’’2 Kureishi and Smith eventually show how futile their quest for roots is. They will both fail in their quest and consequently become depressed and unhappy with their lives. Constantly going back internally to their home countries is a way for them to preserve their traditions. Because they are trapped and cannot go back to their roots, while, at the same time, they cannot cope with the present, they both try hard to secure the transition of their roots (ethnic, familial, cultural, and historical) from one generation to another as if roots were easily transportable, that they can bring them to England without altering them at all. They both are dislocated, that is why they constantly think about their roots and heritage. Because they cannot go back nor cope with the present, so as a desperate attempt to revive their roots and their mother culture and to secure the transition of them for one generation to another; Samad sends back one of his sons to Bangladesh and Anwar arranges his daughter's marriage with an Indian man.
As the novel unfolds, they both develop an aversion for Western values and become more and more fundamentalists, constantly rejecting the values conveyed by the Western society in which they live. They both are very reluctant to the idea that this kind of values may lure their children. As a result, they both try to re-establish a connection with their original countries and also with Islam. However, they both are contradictory because they are not fervent believer, they find themselves corrupted as well: Samad drinks alcohol, Anwar eats pork and beats his wife and they both cheat on their wives. Smith and Kureishi never try to impose artificial or stereotypical model on their characters, their characters are alive, full of contradictions and paradoxes.
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