“East is East” is a play which is set in the 1970’s in a deprived area called Salford, Manchester. The play is about an Anglo – Pakistani family. The family are called the Khan’s; they live in a council road and own an English fish and chip shop. “East is East” was written in 1996 by Ayub Khan – Din, the play was based on the life of the author. The author was the youngest child and in the play his name was Sajit. The author did not attend to offend or make a statement with this play, but it was a way of making sense of his childhood.
The Khan family were a very big family; they had one girl and five boys. They were all cramped into a small council house. Meenah the girl had her own room and all the boys were confined to a little room. They did not have a toilet; they had to use small bucket.
This play was set in the 70’s when the war between India and Pakistani was going on. The India and Pakistani war has a great effect on the play “East is East” because George Khan the father has family in Pakistan. George always wants to discover the latest news in Pakistan; he always wants to watch the news. The Khan’s have an Islamic belief; George believes that all the boys should have an arranged marriage. He has a very strong belief in his religion, the rest of the family want to be British and don’t believe in arranged marriage.
The Enoch Powell speech has a strong impact on the play, it was read out in Birmingham and was called the “Rivers of Blood”. “Rivers of Blood” is a speech, which was said publicly, “Britain must be mad to allow the inflow of dependants of immigrants every year.” The speech is on the whole mainly about why Britain shouldn’t let immigrants in every year. This has an impact on the play because it say’s that Pakistanis shouldn’t be able to live and work in this country. The speech also says that villages and towns will taken over by immigrants, this offends Pakistanis because it says that nobody wants them hear, this will make them fill unwanted. This will also encourage racist comments because people will follow Enoch Powell and tell Pakistanis what Enoch Powell thinks.
There are many conflicts throughout this play. The major conflict in this play is between the father George and his children. They are always in disagreement over there religion. The father requests that they are strict Muslims, but the children desire to be English because they do not approve of the rules. George is a very strict Muslim, he does not let them do anything against there religion. George requests that the family go to the mosque regularly
The family always portray him because they try to do English things without him knowing. When George does find out, he goes mad. George sometimes attacks a member of the family. Some of the things the family do are; Eat bacon which is prohibited. In the play Meenah and Saleem make some bacon. Meenah says “It stinks of burnt bacon in here, me dad’ll smell it a mile off,” Tariq then replies “Chuck some curry powder about, that’ll cover it.” This is just one way which they are in conflict with there father George.
Another time is when Saleem stands up for the family. Saleem says to George that he doesn’t think it is the right time for Abdul and Tariq to get married. George gets very irritated and starts to threaten Saleem, Saleem says “I’m not Pakistani, I was born here, I speak English, not Urdu.” George says “Do you want choose like Nazir, han? Lose everything, go with bloody English girl? They not good, go with other men, drink alcohol, no look after.” This is very ironic because George marries an English woman. Saleem then hits a raw nerve of Georges, He replies “Well if Pakistani women are so great, why did you marry me mam”? George grabs him, and pushes him on the ground and kicks and slaps him. George leaves Saleem lying on the floor crying.
At the time of this play the India, Pakistan war was going on. This causes a lot of conflict between George and Indians because he believes that Pakistanis are the good ones and Indians are the bad ones. He also believes that the whole world is against Pakistan. George is Nationalistic about his country; he believes that Pakistan is better than any other country. He believes that every country is wrong and Pakistan is right. George is always eager to watch the News and find about the war. George says “In Pakistan everyone equal, there are no black, no white just Muslim”. This is ironic because Muslims are not only Pakistanis but Indians too. George hates Indians so he can’t be a very good Muslim, Muslims are supposed to love each other. On the television it showed Pakistanis holding up Korans and it showed people being hit with machete knifes. George still believes that Pakistanis are right. George doesn’t like people showing racist attitude towards his family. However he calls a black person “blackie.”
The children speak with English slang; they have no interest in being a Pakistani. Meenah doesn’t want to wear a Sari; she prefers to wear typical English jeans and clothes. The rest of the kids also wear what they want accept Maneer because h
George finds out that Sajit, the youngest hasn’t had his fore-skin chopped off, because there was a misunderstanding when Sajit was young. George then forces Ella the mother to go and get it cut off; this causes Sajit a lot of pain. In order to buy Sajit’s affection, George buys him a watch with Islamic writing on it. This makes Ella fill like she is a bad mother because she didn’t put her foot down when George got Sajits fore-skin chopped off. She feels that she has let Sajit down because he didn’t want it to happen.
George has an English name because he changed as he came over to England because he wanted to fit in with the English culture. This is ironic because he names all of his children with Muslim names. He doesn’t think about them fitting in with the English culture. George always goes on about Pakistan and how good it is, this is also ironic because he came to England and opened a Fish and Chips shop. It is called “The English Fish and Chips Shop.” It is very unusual for a Pakistani to own an English Fish and chips shop especially in the 70’s they were normally owned by English people. It is also ironic because if Pakistan was so good he wouldn’t have moved to England.
George and Ella have six children, all of them are against George accept Maneer. Maneer is the goody – goody out of them. He is too scared to rebel against his father. Maneer is George’s favourite child because he is a strict Muslim; the family call him Ghandi because he is a religious leader. Another goody – goody is Abdul; he doesn’t go partying like the rest he stays in. By the end of the play Abdul becomes more self-assured and confident. He goes to the pub for the first time ever. At the pub people are making racist jokes against Pakistanis, Abdul is laughing at the time. When he gets home he regrets laughing at the jokes. After the pub Tariq and Abdul were arguing, Tariq calls Abdul pathetic because he doesn’t want to run away and live with Nazir. (Who also ran away because George arranged a marriage for him) Abdul says that he can’t live without a family around him, Tariq thinks this is pathetic.
I think that Ayub Khan – Din was very successful at portraying the conflict in the play “East is East”. He created some very good conflicts. This play has a very compact story; this is probably because the play is about his life. I think that the play goes into great detail and provides many disagreements between the Khan family. The conflicts are about many things including; there religion, there race, there dad and so on.