Perhaps, some people live in a disastrous world where war disintegrates the bond of friendship. 2 blood brothers, bound by trust and friendship, are forced to fight each other at gunpoint due to cultural reasons. The novel “An Act of Love” written by Alan Gibbons describes Imran, an American with Asian and Islamic background, and Chris, an American. From when they were seven years old, the two were inseparable friends. Even though Imran was occasionally bullied by white American kids, Chris sided with him all the time. Little did they know that their friendship was about to be risked in peril. Imran’s inner and outer conflicts were the factors which led Imran to part, and eventually reunite with the caring society around him.
Political crisis between the Middle Eastern countries and the U.K. intensified in the later years of the 20th century. Imran was from Arabic descent, which meant he suffered from racism. Likewise, people who were from the middle east were discriminated and treated badly. “Go home, Paki. No one likes you.” (Gibbons, 159) Therefore, many Muslims living in England wanted to get revenge at the Americans and the British for joining the war against whom they called “Innocent Muslim Civilians”. They held daily protests, and denounced the Americans in public. In the midst of all that, Imran, a young boy from Pakistan, had several inner conflicts. Firstly, there were Muslim groups all of the U.K. holding protests. Since Imran wanted revenge for his brother, Rafiq, who was taken away and detained by the police, he wanted to join in the mayhem going on within the crowd. The extremists, who were mainly the leaders of the protests, were a group of people who believed in violence resolving all conflict. Imran’s internal conflict was the conflict of person vs self as he pondered over the choices of following his passions or siding with his neutral family. His decisions led him to betray his father and family and ran away from his home to join the extremists, a gang led by a man named Arshad. Arshad, however, thought Imran as a weakling that could never be “strong”. “He is of no use. He is a weakling who shall never truly be a Muslim.” (261) Persuaded by his brother Rafiq, who had come out of jail, and his dad, Abbu, he thwarted Arshad’s plan to train him, and returned to his home.
Imran’s tough decision let numerous people in despair. Muslims in U.K. were contesting the whole British society by protesting against them to stop the war. However, Imran’s case was far more extreme since he sided with people who were willing to use violence to achieve their goal. As a result, the external conflict he had with the society around him was severe. Firstly, Imran denounced Chris and tore apart from him, calling him a “Killer of Peace, a Murderer.” (180). Then, he pushed Abbu away when he was stopped by Abbu, telling him that he was a weakling who didn’t know the real way of being a Muslim. Abbu warned him that Islam represented peace and non-violence, and the extremists were impulsive fools that would do anything to achieve what they believed “Islam”. Imran did not heed the warning and left the house for several months after coming back. His mother and sister phoned him several times, which he never responded to. As a bird seceding from its flock, Imran distanced himself with the society and left to follow a passion which he was never able to pursue.
I personally had similar conflicts with Imran. Imran’s conflict with his family over what he was planning to do was huge, and it led him to even quarrel with his parents, which is what he rarely does. I had a conflict that also led me to have conflicts with my family over what I wanted to do. After telling my parents that I wanted to attend a class of my choice in school, my parents disagreed and said that it was useless, and it wouldn’t help me improve my grades. Therefore, even though they said I couldn’t sign up for the class, I ignored them and signed up for the class I wanted. However, it became clear to me later that my parents were right, and I regretted signing up for the class.
The setting of the story locates in England, where Muslims and the British were quarreling over Great Britain’s choice to participate in the war. The war was viewed from a different perspective from each of the groups. The British thought it was their job to send their soldiers in a counter-terrorist mission, and the majority agreed with that in the polls. However, the Muslims viewed it as the U.S. and its allies slaughtering innocent civilians. Therefore, the mood of the story is mostly gloomy as people were extremely sensitive about the decisions that the government made. “Americans are murderers! Stop the slaughter!” The Muslims cried out as the British Parliament decided to participate in eliminating the extremist government of Iraq. Imran, who was unable to forge his own perceptions, struggled against the public opinion bearing down on him like a slab of rock. Therefore, Imran represents the people who were unable to control themselves and was swept away by the situation around them.
Life is all about making certain decisions and taking certain pathways that will lead to specific choices. Sometimes, they could lead to content results, and sometimes, they could lead the seeker into an unknown disaster. Imran’s inner conflict and outer conflicts were eventually the factors which led Imran to reconcile and re-strengthen his bonds with Chris and trigger growth in his inner self. As my teacher once said, “Life is all about making certain choices. If you make a choice, you have to accept what goes with it.”