Funny Boy

Sinhala / Sinhalese Term Analysis

The Buddhist majority ethnic group of Sri Lanka, which comprises about three-quarters of the island’s population, as well as the name of this people’s language. The Sinhalese-led government fought the Sri Lankan Civil War against the Tamil Tigers. “Sinhala” and “Sinhalese” are largely interchangeable terms, but “Sinhala” more often refers to the language and “Sinhalese” to the people.

Sinhala / Sinhalese Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Sinhala / Sinhalese or refer to Sinhala / Sinhalese. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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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2. Radha Aunty Quotes

“Be careful. We Sinhalese are losing patience with you Tamils and your arrogance.”

Related Characters: Anil’s Father (speaker), Radha Aunty, Ammachi, Anil Jayasinghe
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Radha Aunty didn’t answer for a moment. “Until a few days ago I only thought of Rajan, but now I find myself thinking of Anil as well.”

Mala Aunty sighed. “It’ll never work.”

“But other Sinhalese and Tamil people get married.”

“I know,” Mala Aunty replied, “but they have their par­ents’ consent.

“If two people love each other, the rest is unimportant.”

“No, it isn’t. Ultimately, you have to live in the real world. And without your family you are nothing.”

Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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 short mobile
4. Small Choices Quotes

“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
6. Riot Journal: An Epilogue Quotes

Chithra Aunty began to cry. Amma went to her and tried to comfort her. There was something ironic about that. Amma comforting Chithra Aunty. Yet I understood it. Chithra Aunty was free to cry. We couldn’t, for if we started we would never stop.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Amma, Appa, Sena Uncle, Chithra Aunty
Related Symbols: Arjie’s Burned-Down House
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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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Sinhala / Sinhalese Term Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the term Sinhala / Sinhalese appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Radha Aunty
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...about “this boy you’re taking lifts from.” Ammachi is distraught to hear that Anil is Sinhalese; she complains to Appachi about Sinhalese boys’ bad morals and laments that “people will talk,”... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...reluctant to explain the war, but simply explains that riots and killing started after the Sinhalese tried to make theirs the only official language. Over time, by listening to adults, Arjie... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...“are from a good family as well” and would never want Anil “to marry some non-Sinhalese.” He rejects the apology and, as his wife calls him away, he warns that “we... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
At the next rehearsal, Anil asks Radha Aunty why her mother is so anti-Sinhalese, and Radha explains that Ammachi’s father was killed in an ethnic riot in 1958. When... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...not cross her family. She also notes that the ethnic tensions between the Tamils and Sinhalese are worsening, as the Tamil Tigers are becoming more violent. This might make a “mixed... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...where the whole family is gathered. Diggy reports that “Radha Aunty’s train was attacked” by Sinhalese people and that she was “hurt and everything” because of the trouble. They worry that... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...Aunty says is not at home. Ammachi and Kanthi yell at Anil and curse the Sinhalese. Hearing the whole episode, Radha breaks down and cries for a long time. (full context)
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
...the family soon has a visitor: Daryl Uncle, an old family friend who speaks perfect Sinhalese. After 15 years away from Sri Lanka, Daryl—a white Burgher—returns on vacation, on a day... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...But Arjie soon hears the adults talking about politics—there is an ethnic war between the Sinhalese and the Tamil Tigers in Jaffna, and Daryl, who is a journalist, has come to... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...Sri Lanka’s Burghers, many of whom left in the 1950s because they did not speak Sinhala, which the government declared the only national language. Daryl explains that they could not simply... (full context)
4. Small Choices
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...down and explains that “that’s the way we do things here.” Jegan decides “it’s a Tamil-Sinhala thing, isn’t it?” and calls the policy “ridiculous,” but Appa explains that the region is... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...shows him the newspaper article and laments that the whole office read it, and “the Sinhalese staff […] were silent,” while everyone else offered words of support. Jegan asks if they... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...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. Appa refuses to... (full context)
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
...to the classrooms, where the other boys are loud and tough. Diggy leaves Arjie in Sinhala class with a threatening boy named Salgado, who says Arjie is not welcome because he... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...factions” between Lokubandara (who wants to make the school officially Buddhist, like most of the Sinhalese) and Black Tie (who is Buddhist but “want[s] the school to be for all races... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...minister to the front row, the choir sings the national anthem, and then the school’s Sinhala Drama Society performs a Sinhalese origin story about Vijaya and Kuveni, which ends suddenly 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
...and they make plans to see a movie, but then Arjie realizes something: “Shehan was Sinhalese and I was not.” (full context)