Funny Boy Analysis

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The unit discussed Funny Boy in the context of the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka. The novel has been written from a young boy, Arjie’s perspective. It documents Arjie’s struggle with discovering and accepting his homosexuality. It also documents a parallel struggle to come to terms with the second hand status that is meted out to Tamils in Sri Lanka and the impending migration to start life afresh in a new country. The unit begins with a brief discussion of the history of the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict. It then goes on to discuss the novel’s various themes like sexuality, representation of the political conflict in the novel, children’s games etc. A final note is on the significance of the novel’s title and narrative structure.

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It is also often used to suggest homosexuality. The title of the novel plays on the word “funny” to indicate both Arjie’s sexual orientation as well as the many unusual experiences (social and political) that he has. From the beginning, it is Arjie’s involvement that ties all the stories together. He is Radha aunty’s confidant in her quiet trips to meet Anil. He is also his mother confidant when she has a brief affair with Daryl Uncle. He even accompanies her on her many trips to the police station, Daryl Uncle’s house and Somaratne’s village to piece the story of Daryl Uncle’s disappearance. After Daryl Uncle’s body is discovered, it is Arjie who lends his mother quiet support in the face of her loss. Thus his experiences are funny or unusual from those of his brother (Diggy) and sister (Sonali); while the latter two have only known the trauma of political conflict and displacement, Arjie has been closely associated with the many instances in which political strife successfully has torn personal lives. Even before Diggy, Sonali and Appa had experienced the death of Ammachi and Appachi due to communal riots, Arjie had heard what the government and its people are capable of from Jegan. He had also witnessed the power wielded by the government and its capacity to destroy people, in Daryl Uncle’s death. In other words, Arjie’s experience of life in Sri Lanka are organized through each of these stories and are in that …show more content…
Gender stereotypes imposed by his family explicitly demarcate the separate worlds of boy and girl, leaving Arjie "caught between the boys' and the girls' worlds, not belonging or wanted in either". His exclusion from both the boys and girls suggests that Arjie himself inhabits some third space in between these two, but that third space is merely euphemized as “funny” and never named “gay or homosexual”. The author eludes the placement of an official title or label on their narrators. When Arjie invites Shehan , the object of his attraction, to his home, Arjie's brother Diggy remarks that Arjie's father will now "definitely know that you're". While references such as "funny" “girlie boy” certainly suggest behavior that would typically be described in Western culture as homosexual. The choice by Selvadurai to place his narrator in a nameless middle space in between demarcated sexual and gender boundaries in many ways mirrors the inability of diasporan individuals to be placed within cultural and ethnic boundaries of either the natives or the refugees.

The author, as if an individual himself in diaspora, describes sexuality and gender of his diasporan character not as having a specific name, but rather, as being an “in between”.
Just as the space Arjie occupies between male and female is not clearly defined, so too are the words employed by the diasporic writer to describe this

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