Hideous Kinky

“Hideous Kinky” by Esther Freud An analysis of the relationships between the protagonist and her family The novel “Hideous Kinky” by Esther Freud was written in 1992. It is a story about a mother who travels to Marrakech, Morocco with her two daughters. The three of them live in several places around Morocco, meet various people and experience ups and downs. In this essay I will analyse the relationships between the protagonist and her sister, mother and father. The protagonist has a close relationship with her older sister Bea.

They keep each other company in the new environment they are forced to live in. They tell each other stories, play games they invent themselves, wonder around and sing songs. Since Bea is older than the protagonist, she is a role model for her younger sister. She does everything before her sister and thus shows the younger one that it is safe and encourages her to do the same. But at the same time Bea takes advantage of being older. For example she gets to choose presents first or she makes the games they play unfair so that she will always win.

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Thus the protagonist feels she is not as fast, flexible or smart as her sister. But despite the tinge of inequality, their friendship is crucial to survival in Marrakech. The mother and the protagonist love each other very much, yet their relationship is not very close. It is questionable, whether she is a good mother to her children. She has brought them to an unfamiliar place and does not think of their education or wellbeing. They live in sordid places and sometimes have no money for food or rent. She ignores that the protagonist is lonely and misses England.

The mother does not pay much attention to her children and instead hooks up with various men and pursues spirituality. She does not take into account that her children are ashamed of her praying in the middle of the street and that the protagonist pleads her not to be a Sufi. She even occasionally forgets that she is a grownup and must take care of her children. The fact that the mother is irresponsible and does not give the protagonist as much attention as she needs forces the protagonist to be independent and strong.

There is no actual relationship between the protagonist and her father, because she does not know, who her father is. All she hears about her father is from a man she runs into at a cafe, who claims to be an old friend of her father and only says that her father used to wear a golden jacket. The protagonist misses a father figure and imagines almost every man her mother hooks up with as her father. An itinerant builder and magician’s apprentice, Bilal, has the longest relationship with the mother. The protagonist trusts and loves him from the start. They practice acrobatic tricks and tell secrets to each other.

Eventually Bilal becomes the closest person to the protagonist and plays a fatherly role for her. When she tells people that Bilal is her father, no one denies it. Hence she takes Bilal as her father and is very keen on him. Although the mother does not pay much attention to the protagonist, they still love each other. Instead of having her mother as a role model, she has her older sister Bea. Although the protagonist is close to her older sister, she has a bigger friend Bilal, who fills the empty place of her father. All in all, the lack of something in one relationship, is filled in by another relationship.

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