My Son's Story Analysis

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The importance of silence in Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes and Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story hinges on the assumption that the spread of information is simultaneously valuable and dangerous. Each of these authors frame their stories around political upheaval where violence and oppression are constantly just beneath the surface. The apartheid-era South African activists of My Son’s Story, like Sonny and his wife Aila, use information to find support in a movement that opposes the government they believe to be unjust. In contrast, the Pakistani government of Hanif’s novel portrays the era during General Zia’s “shariazation” reign as a paranoid government that spies on its own generals, searching for information that could possibly …show more content…
Stumbling upon his father’s affair with Hannah, an international human rights activist and ally, Will becomes complicit in his father’s secret life and privy to the ways in which Sonny and Hannah communicate. When his father is in jail, it is revealed that Sonny “had been taught…that it was possible to use a private, oblique language to receive information from intimates” (Gordimer 582). This use of an “oblique language” is one that never reveals explicit details. Instead, Sonny must always obscure actual details in order to protect himself and his family when in jail. This form of non-communication contrasts the established way that Sonny and Aila communicate. Whereas silence was a form of comfort when their relationship started, in times of conflict where Sonny has lost his freedom, silence must become a form of defense. By using nonverbal cues, Sonny can protect his wife and his family from becoming implicated in the conflict. Will continues this trend of keeping secrets and silencing the communication between Sonny and Aila by hiding details about Sonny’s affair with Hannah from Aila. Gordimer equates these political and familial secrets as forms of defense; Sonny protects his family from the state’s oppressive regime while Will protects Aila from Sonny’s extramarital …show more content…
The paranoia of the Pakistani government under General Zia has led to widespread wiretapping by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who is led by General Akhtar. The role of silence is primarily one of violence and political oppression. The ISI is not being used to protect the government from outside forces or protect the general’s families. Rather, General Akhtar uses the intelligence gathering tools to stage a political coup and to prevent opposing viewpoints from being heard. Both goals are achieved through means that violate human rights, using violence as a tactic on a war against the

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