Funny Boy

Shehan Soyza Character Analysis

Another student at Victoria Academy and Arjie’s first real love interest. Initially, Shehan helps protect Arjie from Salgado’s bullying; they exchange smiles and Arjie immediately feels attracted to Shehan’s charisma, confidence, and long hair. But this long hair gets Shehan into trouble with Black Tie, who names him as one of the “ills and burdens” and punishes him extensively for little apparent reason. Through their punishments in Black Tie’s office, Arjie and Shehan bond, and eventually they begin to meet outside of school. Once, when their plot to get released from Black Tie’s punishments succeeds, Arjie and Shehan suddenly kiss; when Diggy tells Arjie that Shehan has a reputation for having sex with other boys, Arjie is both intrigued and confused. Eventually, Arjie and Shehan do have sex, but Arjie feels intensely guilty and blames Shehan. Over time, they reconcile and become regular lovers, and Arjie sabotages Black Tie’s award ceremony to put a stop to the “ills and burdens” group. Near the end of the book, they are still close and spend much of their time together, but they grow distant as their experiences during the 1983 riots differ and, finally, as Arjie plans to immigrate to Canada.

Shehan Soyza Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Shehan Soyza or refer to Shehan Soyza. 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.
5. The Best School of All Quotes

Then the meaning of what Diggy had said hit me, and a realization began to take shape in my mind. A fact so startling that it made my head spin just to think about it. The difference within me that I sometimes felt I had, that had brought me so much confusion, whatever this difference, it was shared by Shehan. I felt amazed that a normal thing—like my friendship with Shehan—could have such powerful and hidden possibilities. I found myself thinking about that moment Shehan had kissed me and also of how he had lain on his bed, waiting for me to carry something through. I now knew that the kiss was somehow connected to what we had in common, and Shehan had known this all along.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Shehan Soyza, Diggy
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
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I looked around at my family and I saw that I had committed a terrible crime against them, against the trust and love they had given me. I glanced at Amma and imagined what her reaction would have been had she discovered us, the profound expression of hurt that would have come over her face. She noticed that I was studying her, and she smiled. I looked down at my plate, feeling my heart clench painfully at the contrast between the innocence of her smile and the dreadful act I had just committed. I wanted to cry out what I had done, beg to be absolved of my crime, but the deed was already done and it couldn’t be taken back. Now I understood my father’s concern, why there had been such worry in his voice whenever he talked about me. He had been right to try to protect me from what he feared was inside me, but he had failed. What I had done in the garage had moved me beyond his hand.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Amma, Appa, Shehan Soyza, Diggy
Page Number: 256-257
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
6. Riot Journal: An Epilogue Quotes

He was trying to cheer me up, and as I listened to him talk, something occurred to me that I had never really been conscious of before—Shehan was Sinhalese and I was not. This awareness did not change my feelings for him, it was simply there, like a thin translucent screen through which I watched him.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Shehan Soyza, Sena Uncle, Chithra Aunty
Related Symbols: Arjie’s Burned-Down House
Page Number: 296-297
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Shehan Soyza Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Shehan Soyza appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
5. The Best School of All
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...he does not speak Tamil and has always been in Sinhalese medium classes). Another boy, Shehan Soyza, points out that the bigoted Salgado is “always saying that Tamils should learn Sinhalese.”... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Arjie sits next to Soyza, who points out the nail someone has planted on his chair and exchanges a shy... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
One day, while a prefect substitutes for a physical education teacher who recently left, Soyza goes to the bathroom for about 15 minutes and returns with rumpled clothing. After another... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Black Tie, who visits class during “a rubber-band-and-paper-pellet fight.” Everyone pulls out their books and Soyza pins up his hair. When Black Tie walks in, he wears a sour frown under... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
At the end of the day, Black Tie releases Soyza with short hair cut in “jagged layers.” Soyza knows that there is nothing to be... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Death” (because he always delivers bad news) comes to bring Arjie to the principal’s office. Soyza is sitting outside; inside are Mr. Sunderalingam and Black Tie, who is now smiling and... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
After school, Arjie tells Soyza about what happened in Black Tie’s office, and then Diggy tells Arjie not to associate... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Arjie visits Black Tie for a practice run at reciting the poems. He runs into Soyza, still with the “ills and burdens,” and briefly practices, forgetting the lines until Soyza calms... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Arjie and Soyza walk back to the classroom to get their bags, but in a fury, Arjie tears... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
On their bicycle ride home, Soyza asks whether Arjie’s family calls him “Arjun” (no—they call him “Arjie”) and Arjie asks Soyza... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The next day, Arjie and Shehan take up their same roles for Black Tie. Arjie “studies” Shehan’s body and notices his... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
After another hour, Arjie and Shehan return inside again, but now Arjie has a plan. He asks Black Tie if he... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...Black Tie, and Arjie starts making his way upstairs. Thinking about Black Tie’s cruelty toward Shehan and himself, and then Salgado’s cruelty toward the Tamil boys (which Lokubandara sanctioned), Arjie feels... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
After school, Mr. Sunderalingam visits Black Tie, who then calls Shehan and Arjie inside and releases them. They run downstairs and, in their whirlwind of surprise... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
At home, no longer stunned by Shehan’s kiss, Arjie starts to savor it—he tries to remember it perfectly, then imagine what a... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Shehan is nervous when Arjie arrives at his poorly maintained house, which makes Arjie immediately realize... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...to hear he has a friend—his first friend ever. Amma says the family should have Shehan over for lunch that weekend, and Diggy shakes his head at Arjie, who defiantly agrees... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Arjie realizes that he and Shehan are both different in the same way, and that there are “powerful and hidden possibilities”... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Arjie is “excited but scared” about Shehan’s arrival on Sunday. After he arrives, Shehan is quiet, and he and Arjie join Sonali... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
They get dressed, and Shehan gives Arjie an uncomfortable kiss. They return outside and Arjie worries about stains and wrinkles... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
After lunch, in Arjie’s room, Shehan points out that Appa did not seem to like him. Arjie asks if Shehan “want[s]... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Arjie calls Shehan “revolting” and says he regrets initiating in the garage. Shehan accuses Arjie of being one... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Arjie dreams of Shehan again the night after this entire episode. In the dream, he meets Shehan in a... (full context)
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...his dream on his way to class the day after. When he arrives, he finds Shehan with a new attitude, “his emotions […] clearly visible” instead of hidden by pride. He... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Arjie cannot stop thinking about Shehan for the rest of the day and worries that he has mistreated the friend who... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
When Arjie arrives at Shehan’s house, the servant woman tells him that Shehan has not left his room since after... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
On his way home, Arjie feels “a despair […] fueled by [his] inability to relieve Shehan of his pain.” He thinks about how Shehan helped him with Salgado’s bullying and the... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Arjie wonders “how many boys like Shehan [have] passed through this school” and have become the school’s “prisoner.” Most probably did so... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
At school the next day, Shehan is cheery and energized. He announces that he has a plan to save himself: “I’m... (full context)
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
During second period, Black Tie calls Arjie to his office, where Shehan is still kneeling on the balcony, and makes him recite the poems—but this time, without... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...class, Arjie thinks about all of the ways he can use this power to save Shehan or get back at Black Tie. He realizes he can completely mess up the poems... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The next week, on the day of the ceremony, Arjie has not informed Shehan about his plans, but asks if Shehan will come. Shehan says he will be there—but... (full context)
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...the audience: Black Tie, the minister, Mr. Sunderalingam, Amma and Appa, and—to Arjie’s surprise and delight—Shehan, on the second floor balcony. Arjie recites the poems, completely out of order, as he... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...being given out during the last part of the ceremony, Arjie runs upstairs to see Shehan, whom he brings into an empty classroom. Shehan is confused; Arjie explains his plan and... (full context)
6. Riot Journal: An Epilogue
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...“only bring dismal and depressing news.” The only person Arjie is happy to see is Shehan, whom he “wanted more than anything else to hold” but could not because of his... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...about losing his house. He misses only his things and his private space, and especially Shehan. Amma has started crying in the bathroom about losing the house. (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
On August 27, Arjie writes that he has visited Shehan for the last time and “can still smell his particular odor on my body, which... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
On his ride home from Shehan’s house to Sena Uncle’s, Arjie realized that he had forgotten something, and went to visit... (full context)