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Textverständnis und Analyse: Fiktionaler Text "Hassan: A case study"


  1. Summarize the text. (30 BE)
  2. Explain Hassan’s attitude towards modern British society and relate it to the attitude(s) of other British people with an ethnic background in material (fiction / non-fiction) discussed in class. (40 BE)



In the extract “Hassan: A Case Study” from Sebastian Faulks’ novel A week in December published in 2010, the reader gets an insight into to mind of the young terrorist Hassan al-Rashid who is travelling through London on a Circle Line train to buy the constituents for a bomb.

While sitting in the tube carriage Hassan is watching the other passengers and contemplating their views on life, God and their faith. He finds it inappropriate that the teenage couple opposite him should be kissing publically and he is of the opinion that – it being Sunday – the European tourists standing in the centre of the carriage should be in church rather than doing sightseeing. Hassan is convinced that for most Christians cathedrals were no longer places of worship but monuments or works of art and that any remaining display of faith, like on Christmas Day, for a wedding or a christening, were more or less a show of hypocrisy as they had really “given up God”. Instead people lived in a dream world and did not reflect enough on their salvation. For Hassan only the members of his group and a few people at his mosque had found the right way.

Turning his mind to more profane things Hassan them begins to think about how carefully he had to operate to buy the constituents of his bomb since all of London was so closely monitored by CCTV cameras. When he gets off at Gloucester Road, Hassan has developed a plan how to obtain the most difficult constituent for his bomb – hydrogen peroxide.

(261 words)


Hassan al-Rashid, one of the seven characters portrayed in Sebastian Faulks’ novel A week in December, is a young Muslim immigrant who has failed to come to terms with the lifestyle and attitudes of modern British society. Sitting on a Circle Line train, he is on his way to purchase the constituents of a bomb. He is observing the other passengers with a mixture of loathing and incomprehension as to their conduct and way of life. While most people would not be offended by a kissing scene between two teenagers, it is inappropriate for Hassan that the two distinctly “white-skinned” (l.7) teenagers should be displaying their affections so openly. What is even more incomprehensible to Hassan is the fact that the European tourists he observes in the carriage spend their Sunday morning looking at the London sights instead of going to church. In his eyes the Christians “let eternal life slip through their hands” (ll.23-24), disregarding God’s commandments and reducing their remaining display of faith to a minimum. The only way Hassan can react to people’s perplexing indifference in their own salvation (see ll.37-38) is by declaring the rest of the world – outside of his immediate circle – to be “deluded” (l.37) and living “in a dream” (l.34). In his religious fanaticism Hassan is no longer able to accept other beliefs and concepts of life. Despite the fact that he has lived in British society, Hassan feels himself alienated and certainly does not consider himself to be a member of it.

Another British-born character who is struggling with his cultural and personal identity is seventeen-year old Karim, the protagonist of Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Buddha of Suburbia. Son of a British mother and an Indian father in the 1970s, he is torn between his wish to gain acceptance with mainstream society as well as with the estranged immigrant community. His life is dominated by sex, drugs and the search for a sense of belonging in London’s southern suburbs. While Sebastian Faulks’ character Hassan has chosen to alienate himself from British society and indeed despises the British way of life, Karim is desperate to get his fill of western culture, particularly after his father’s new family manages to leave the suburb and move to London. There, Karim becomes fascinated with the city’s glamour and opportunities. Life for him finally begins to gain sense when Karim finds his way into an ordered job life with the help of his father’s girlfriend Eva. The more successful Karim becomes when his dream career as an actor evolves, the more he begins to identify with the western culture and British way of life.

In spite of the fact that it takes Kureishi’s protagonist a long time to develop, success and the experience of love – if, however, disappointed – all help Karim to finally find a place in British society. Hassan, on the other hand, does not. The only feelings he seems to have toward the mainstream culture are hatred, disgust and incomprehension. As both examples show, the struggle for identity in a western society is a deep-rooted problem, particularly with second and third generation immigrants. And while the conflict can be finally resolved in Karim’s case, Hassan takes his revenge on a society he feels he does not belong to.         

(543 words)

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