Funny Boy

Janaki Character Analysis

Ammachi and Appachi’s overworked Sinhalese servant, who is responsible for cooking for everyone and looking after the children during the family’s monthly spend-the-days. While she is generally too stressed out to play with the children, Janaki takes pity on Arjie when Ammachi starts making him perform housework, and so she lets him read her Sinhala love comics, which spark his mental image of the perfect wedding.

Janaki Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Janaki or refer to Janaki. 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.
1. Pigs Can’t Fly Quotes

From my sling-bag I would bring out my most prized possession, an old white sari, slightly yellow with age, its border torn and missing most of its sequins. The dressing of the bride would now begin, and then, by the transfiguration I saw taking place in Janaki’s cracked full-length mirror—by the sari being wrapped around my body, the veil being pinned to my head, the rouge put on my cheeks, lipstick on my lips, kohl around my eyes—I was able to leave the constraints of my self and ascend into another, more brilliant, more beautiful self, a self to whom this day was dedicated, and around whom the world, represented by my cousins putting flowers in my hair, draping the palu, seemed to revolve. It was a self magnified, like the goddesses of the Sinhalese and Tamil cinema, larger than life; and like them, like the Malini Fonsekas and the Geetha Kumarasinghes, I was an icon, a graceful, benevolent, perfect being upon whom the adoring eyes of the world rested.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Janaki
Related Symbols: The Bride-Bride Sari
Page Number: 4-5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Janaki Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Janaki appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Pigs Can’t Fly
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
...adults leave, the children are always ecstatic to be free, watched by only Ammachi and Janaki, who is busy cooking and wants nothing to do with the kids anyway. When the... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...to take dictation. Her Fatness interrupts, insists on seeing the sari, and threatens to tell Janaki that Arjie is playing with them, so Arjie retrieves Sonali’s bag. (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...inside Sonali’s bag; Arjie realizes that Her Fatness has already discovered and hidden it in Janaki’s room. They race to find it—Her Fatness gets it first, then runs off, with Arjie... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...to explain what happened, they realize that Ammachi is standing in the doorway; she chastises Janaki for failing to “keep these children quiet.” Her Fatness starts crying, Ammachi sees her torn... (full context)
2. Radha Aunty
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...occupied and ‘out of mischief.’” His spend-the-days are now miserable except for the hour that Janaki lets him “read her Sinhala love comics” while Ammachi naps. This time, he imagines Rajan... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...then comments that he “would have made a beautiful girl.” She even shows him to Janaki, who mentions that it should stay a secret but smiles nevertheless. Arjie spends the rest... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...were Sinhalese. Radha calls her mother a “racist,” a word Arjie does not know yet. Janaki tells Radha not to “forget what happened” and describes a mutilated dead body, but Radha... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
On the next spend-the-day, after play rehearsal, Janaki tells Radha Aunty that Ammachi has visited Anil’s family and told them to keep their... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...an hour and claim they got lost, Mala Aunty is suspicious and Radha Aunty tells Janaki that she and Anil will marry after she returns from Jaffna. (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...to the back garden and remembers playing bride-bride just months before. As he listens to Janaki work in the kitchen, he realizes that he can no longer truly believe “that if... (full context)