Funny Boy

Jegan Parameswaran Character Analysis

The son of one of Appa’s old childhood friends, Jegan helps resettle Tamil refugees in Jaffna while working for the Gandhiyam Movement and briefly joins the Tamil Tigers before moving to stay with Arjie’s family in Colombo. After his father’s death, Jegan’s mother asks Appa to care for Jegan by invoking an old pact Appa made with Jegan’s father in school: they promised to “always protect each other and each others’ familys [sic].” Jegan quickly grows close to Appa (who employs him and thinks he resembles his father) and Arjie (who finds him attractive and understanding). But Jegan’s freethinking soon becomes a liability for the family; the Sinhalese employees at Appa’s work and hotel grow suspicious of Jegan, and eventually the police arrest him on false charges, but after his release everyone thinks of him as associated with the Tamil Tigers and Appa begins receiving threats. After a Sinhalese gang nearly attacks the family and someone writes “Death to all Tamil pariahs” on the outside wall of Jegan’s room at the hotel, causing all the guests to check out, Appa realizes that his business can only remain successful if he fires Jegan. Arjie is dismayed to watch this happen, and Jegan is understandably dismissive and bitter when he moves out of the family’s house, never to be seen again. His fate, like Daryl’s, shows how some of the conflict’s worst injustices were inflicted upon those with the purest motives.

Jegan Parameswaran Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Jegan Parameswaran or refer to Jegan Parameswaran. 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.
4. Small Choices Quotes

My father chuckled. “I don’t see any police out there, do you?” He poured himself another drink. “It’s not just our luscious beaches that keep the tourist industry going, you know. We have other natural resources as well.”

Related Characters: Appa (speaker), Arjie, Jegan Parameswaran
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
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“But we are a minority, and that’s a fact of life,” my father said placatingly. “As a Tamil you have to learn how to play the game. Play it right and you can do very well for yourself. The trick is not to make yourself conspicuous. Go around quietly, make your money, and don’t step on anyone’s toes.” […] “It’s good to have ideals, but now you're a man, son.”

Related Characters: Appa (speaker), Jegan Parameswaran
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“How do you know he’s innocent?” my father asked. “We can’t be a hundred percent sure.”

“You mean you honestly think he’s guilty?” Amma asked, astonished.

My father was silent. We all stared at him, angry and hurt that he would really believe this.

“Look,” my father eventually said, “the best thing is to get as little involved as possible. If they find out that Jegan is connected to the assassination attempt, we could be accused of harboring a terrorist.”

“Nonsense,” Amma said. “Why would they accuse us?”

“These days, every Tamil is a Tiger until proven otherwise.”

Related Characters: Amma (speaker), Appa (speaker), Arjie, Jegan Parameswaran
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I was angry by now, but at whom I didn’t know. I thought about my father, but I couldn’t feel angry at him, because, when I remembered that yellowed piece of paper and the promise he had made to Jegan’s father, I actually felt sorry for him. I thought of the number of times he had abandoned his promise, how he had left Jegan in jail overnight, how he had taken the side of the office peon against him, and I wondered if he had actually had a choice in any of these matters. I thought, too, of how Jegan had said that his father was so proud of my father’s achievements, and I wondered what his father would think if he were alive now and could see what a mess everything had come to.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Appa, Jegan Parameswaran
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
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5. The Best School of All Quotes

I felt bitter at the thought that the students he punished were probably the least deserving. They were the ones who had broken his rules—no blinking, no licking of lips, no long hair—a code that was unfair. Right and wrong, fair and unfair had nothing to do with how things really were. I thought of Shehan and myself. What had happened between us in the garage was not wrong. For how could loving Shehan be bad? Yet if my parents or anybody else discovered this love, I would be in terrible trouble. I thought of how unfair this was and I was reminded of things I had seen happen to other people, like Jegan, or even Radha Aunty, who, in their own way, had experienced injustice. How was it that some people got to decide what was correct or not, just or unjust? It had to do with who was in charge; everything had to do with who held power and who didn’t.

Page Number: 268-269
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jegan Parameswaran Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Jegan Parameswaran appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. Small Choices
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
A deceased friend’s widow writes to Appa from Jaffna, asking his help employing their son Jegan, who had been working with the Gandhiyam movement. She includes a childhood blood pact that... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Jegan Parameswaran comes to the family’s house a few days later. While Neliya Aunty goes inside... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Instead, Amma is the one who asks Jegan about the Gandhiyam movement—which resettles Tamils uprooted by the riots—and then flatly asks if they... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Arjie sits and watches Jegan, fixing his gaze on his muscles; although Jegan notices Arjie looking, he just smiles back,... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
After Jegan starts working with Appa, the two become “inseparable,” even taking drinks together every evening. Arjie... (full context)
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
Jegan also grows close to Arjie, recounting his time in the Gandhiyam organization and inspiring Arjie... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...voting for the “lamp” meant choosing to extend the existing government for six more years. Jegan and Appa come out to confront the man, who does not stop, and then Jegan... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Appa promotes Jegan to take over his hotel inspection duty, and then brings him with the family for... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The next day, Arjie sees Jegan bring the manager to Amma and Appa’s room at the hotel. Jegan complains that the... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Arjie calls Jegan over, and Jegan suggests they go for a walk on the beach, which he says... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Arjie and Jegan grow closer; after they return to Colombo, they start going jogging every evening. (Diggy is... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
After a few days, Arjie learns what was bothering Jegan. The police visit the family’s house during the day, trying to talk to him. Arjie... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
After the family waits all evening for Jegan and Appa to return, Appa’s car comes to the gate at night. Jegan is not... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The next morning, the newspaper reads: “KEY SUSPECT IN ASSASSINATION PLOT DISCOVERED.” It is Jegan, and the article says he “resides with a well-known Tamil hotelier.” Amma and Appa field... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
As they have their drink in the yard, Appa suggests that Jegan take a vacation to Jaffna, but Jegan says that “the best thing for me is... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...night, Arjie hears Appa explaining the incident to Amma, who thinks he “should have taken Jegan’s side.” But Appa explains that “as Tamils we must tread carefully,” which is the only... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
After a week, it is time for Jegan’s inspection duty, and Appa goes with him to “discourage any dissension among the staff.” They... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...whether they will be attacked. They eat solemnly and, afterward, see a crowd forming at Jegan’s patio. In Sinhalese, the words “Death to all Tamil pariahs” are written on his window.... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...is going to be bombed tonight.” Appa decides to “salvage the situation” himself and tells Jegan to move rooms. Later, the lead housekeeper comes by and asks for Appa, because none... (full context)
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...is still holding his whiskey. Later, Arjie overhears Sena Uncle and Appa talk about firing Jegan and sending him abroad to the Middle East. (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...also understands that Appa was in a tough position because of his childhood pact with Jegan’s father. He wonders how his and Jegan’s relationship will progress after Jegan gets fired, and... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Back at the hotel, Arjie sees Jegan packing his things onto the car. Jegan dismissively mentions his firing, and Arjie mentions the... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Back in Colombo, Jegan avoids the family and then moves out the next day. Arjie asks Amma if he... (full context)
5. The Best School of All
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...terrible trouble” if anyone found out. He thinks of Radha Aunty’s love for Anil and Jegan’s fate at the hotel, both of which are similar injustices. He wonders why “some people... (full context)