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Trapped Between Different Cultures Essay

How does Jolil feel trapped between the two cultures in the short story Kiss Miss Carol by Farrukh Dhondy? In this essay I shall be discussing and looking at how Jolil feels, distressed between two different cultures that he is living in, at school and at home. Jolil feels stuck between the two cultures because his family are Muslim.

Their culture is Bangladeshi and he is living in Britain in the East End of London. In ‘Kiss Miss Carol’ I think Farrukh Dhondy is trying to emphasise the contrast between the two different cultures and put across to the audience how difficult it is to merge them together harmoniously. In ‘Kiss Miss Carol’ Jolil’s father works hard and wants his son to follow in his footsteps by doing well at school and helping at home… “He’d look through Jolil’s school satchel” this shows that Jolil is expected to work hard and do well at school.

Also showing us that in Bengali culture children are expected to do very well in their education. Jolil knew his father would not want him to play the part of a lame beggar boy at school. “I send you to school clean and they turn you into a beggar boy!” Jolil’s father thought that Jolil had been given the part of a lame, poor boy that isn’t important because he is Bangladeshi and a different religion. Jolil’s father is convinced that his child is not treated like the other children because of his religion. In turn Jolil does not want his father to come and watch him in the school play because he looks different to the other children’s fathers.

“The last time he came, he turned up in his prayer cap, wearing his, loose white trousers and long black coat.” Jolil is not ashamed of his father, he still feels shy when he walks around with him as he feels his father looks so different from everyone else. This reveals that Jolil’s clothing contrasts differently from how other families dress. I think that Jolil feels a little insecure about this because a small part of him would like to be the same as everyone else and fit in. Jolil saw evidence of two different cultures as he walked from school. We’re told that at Liverpool Street station.

“There was a lot of traffic and thousands of white people hurrying towards the station. They were the kind of white people who didn’t bother you.” However, there were estates where Jolil experienced racial discrimination. “Once when he was walking home from school some white men on a balcony had watched him and shouted bad things at him and one of them threw a bucket of soapy water all over him.” Jolil only
really felt safe in his own community in Brick Lane: “Nearly everyone in Brick Lane and the streets beyond it Bengali, Punjabi or Indian or something.” Jolil feels he is not always safe when he is walking home because of past experiences and gets concerned about whether people will say or do things to him and he may get harmed.

At school Jolil finds it difficult to fit in as a majority of the school are either white or a different culture to him. “School was a different world…” This evokes that Jolil feels he is living in a completely different world when he is at home and feels he doesn’t belong there… Although Jolil finds school hard, sometimes he much prefers being at school rather than at home: “I have to go to school mum.” This tells us that Jolil is eager to get to school and doesn’t want to be at home. His mother and father expect him to work hard at school as well as making him take days off to help them with their work.

“What’s so important about your school anyway? You can stay at home one day.” Here we can see that Jolil’s mother doesn’t seem all that bothered about his education whereas his father is far stricter. Throughout the story Jolil is confused about it true identity. “He was not like the white children.” This shows us that Jolil is realising that he is different to the other white children, he wants to have a normal, fun life like the other children lived. Playing out with their friends and reading comics… Not sitting at home at a sewing machine most of the time. Jolil begins to feel guilty and unsure about what to do and say… “I’m the traitor Miss, no holiday for the school.”

Jolil is under pressure from both sides, he can’t decide what to do as his father does not want him to do the school play but he has been really looking forward to it and is desperate to do it but he doesn’t know how he will get out of helping his mother and father at work. Here I can imagine that Jolil is feeling very confused. Studying the differences of two separate cultures in this essay has made me realise that it can be really tough, especially at school.

I have learnt that boys and girls cannot live a normal life, being trapped between two very contrasting cultures. They have to abide by the rules of their religion. Two very different, individual cultures diverging together can be extremely challenging.

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