Funny Boy

Daryl Uncle Character Analysis

A burgher journalist who grew up in Sri Lanka with Amma but has been living in Australia for more than a decade. In the chapter “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” Daryl Uncle visits in order to investigate the government’s abuses of power under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. While Arjie’s whole family ridicules him for reading Little Women, Daryl mentions his own affinity for the book and buys him the sequels, which brings them closer together. However, the rest of the family—especially Neliya Aunty—openly resents Daryl and his close relationship with Amma. During a trip with Daryl and Amma to the mountains in central Sri Lanka, Arjie begins to feel the same way, especially as he realizes that Daryl and Amma’s relationship used to be romantic long ago, before he left Sri Lanka; they could never marry because he was white and she was Tamil. After this trip, Daryl goes to Jaffna to research his story, but he never returns; his body washes up on the shore of a fishing village, and Amma is confident that the government is to blame. Daryl’s death shows the danger in pursuing justice and forces Arjie to think about how to balance his desire to confront power with the need to stay safe.

Daryl Uncle Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Daryl Uncle or refer to Daryl Uncle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Funny Boy published in 1994.
3. See No Evil, Hear No Evil Quotes

“You’re putting your life at risk for nothing,” Amma insisted.

“It’s not nothing,” Daryl Uncle said. “People are being tortured and killed even as we sit in all this opulence.”

Related Characters: Amma (speaker), Daryl Uncle (speaker), Arjie, Appa
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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As I looked around me, I felt an odd sensation. Our daily routine had been cast away, while the rest of the world was going on as usual. A man I had known, a man who was my mother’s lover, was now dead. I was aware that it was a significant thing, a momentous event in my life even, but, like a newspaper report on an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, it seemed something that happened outside my reality, my world.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Amma, Daryl Uncle
Page Number: 132-133
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“So what must we do?”

“Nothing, my dear,” he said sadly.

Amma looked at him, shocked. “Nothing?” she said.

“These days one must be like the three wise monkeys. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

Related Characters: Amma (speaker), Arjie, Daryl Uncle
Page Number: 137-138
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
4. Small Choices Quotes

"You know,” she said, “I’ve been thinking about emigration.”

My father looked at her in shock.

“Canada and Australia are opening their doors. It would be a good time to apply. For the sake of the children.”

My father shook his head emphatically. “I’ll never emigrate. I’ve seen the way our people live in foreign countries.”

“It’s better than living in this terrible uncertainty.”

He turned to Amma angrily. “How can you want to emigrate? You saw the way our friends lived when we went to America. They come here and flash their dollars around, but over there they’re nothing.”

“It’s not a question of wanting or not wanting to go. We have to think about the children.”

“Don’t worry,” my father said. “Things will work out.”

And then after a while, “Besides, what would I do there? The only job I’d be fit for would be a taxi driver or a petrol station man.”

Related Characters: Amma (speaker), Appa (speaker), Arjie, Daryl Uncle, Diggy, The Banduratne Mudalali, Sonali
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Daryl Uncle Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Daryl Uncle appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
3. See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
“As if to contradict [Amma’s] optimism,” the family soon has a visitor: Daryl Uncle, an old family friend who speaks perfect Sinhalese. After 15 years away from Sri... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
In the morning, Arjie’s fever and Amma’s concern evaporate. But Daryl Uncle visits soon again, and he asks Arjie about his book. Arjie is embarrassed to... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...room, and Arjie calls out to Amma in an attempt to stop her argument with Daryl Uncle. Amma sends Arjie to bed and, confusingly, invites Daryl to stay for lunch. After... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...has hepatitis, and during the subsequent two weeks he is extremely ill. During this time, Daryl Uncle is sporadically present and helps care for him. When Arjie comes to his senses,... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...of tea plantations and their freedom from the rest of the family. The next day, Daryl Uncle shows up, and Arjie resents “no longer hav[ing] Amma’s entire attention.” But Daryl sees... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
At the hill bungalow, Amma is happier than ever because of Daryl’s presence—but, shortly before they are set to return to Colombo, Daryl and Amma get into... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Arjie returns to school, and Amma comes with Daryl to pick him up on the first afternoon. There is clearly a tension between them,... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The next afternoon, Amma reports that she wants to check on Daryl Uncle, since the police have just burned down the Jaffna library. At Daryl’s house, the... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...back room for some time before returning to assure Amma that they would check on Daryl Uncle’s house and call her to Jaffna. (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
When they meet at Daryl’s house, the police assure Amma that “it’s simply a case of break and enter,” and... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...he “play[s] squash with [her] husband from time to time.” The police have not found Daryl, he reports, but they have confirmed that the servant boy, Somaratne, was stealing from him.... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
In the morning, Amma and Neliya Aunty have to go identify Daryl Uncle’s body, which “washed ashore on the beach of a fishing village.” Arjie struggles to... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
That night, Amma falls sick with a headache and laments that she did not save Daryl Uncle, who turned out so disfigured she could only identify him from his wallet. She... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...civil rights attorney and old friend of Appachi. When she explains what happened and mentions Daryl’s name, Q.C. Uncle recalls that she “wanted to marry [Daryl] at one time” until her... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
On their way home, Amma grapples with anxiety and decides to return to Daryl’s house to see what became of the servant boy, Somaratne. When they arrive, a woman... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...care about her son. Amma insists that they just want Somaratne to help them identify Daryl Uncle’s murderer, but Somaratne’s mother says they will end up sacrificing her son in the... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...happened.” They return home around sunset, and Neliya Aunty explains that an Australian journalist from Daryl’s paper came looking for Amma during the day—but warns her against involving herself in whatever... (full context)
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...the Sydney Morning Star stops by to see Amma. She gives him little information about Daryl’s project or his death, and he leaves. Arjie feels “a terrible sadness” at seeing his... (full context)
4. Small Choices
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...of their lives. Arjie realizes this might have something to do with what happened to Daryl Uncle. (full context)