Since Karim is an Indian but he is considering himself as an Englishman, he is suffering from an identity crisis.
So, it is better to answer this question as Ellingsen proposes, “Is it possible to state that Karim belongs to the culture of his father Haroon? The answer for this question is negative because Karim does not strictly consider himself as an Indian. He is rather the ‘unusual’ Englishman, but not the Indian” (53). From this perspective, we can conclude that Karim is of a “complicated hybrid identity” and he is trying to find a certain identity by his attempts to imitate and follow the British cultural society in different personal and cultural aspects. Thus, he is attempting, by a way or another, to confirm that he is a new generation of British people resulting from a mixed race and from a different identity unlike the English one, with special physical appearance characteristics different from those of the white British man. As a result, various aspects that Karim adopts to affirm his true belonging to the British mainstream despite of his uncertain identity and also help him in the constitution of his identity are culture, class, religion and sexual orientation.
First of all, Karim follows nearly all the aspects that characterize the British culture in the 1970s. As an example, he is extremely following the new trends in fashion and music styles, anxious to stay behind on his peers: “The pub is full of kids dressed like me” (Kureishi 8) and “I had to study the Melody Maker and New Musical Express to keep up” (Kureishi 8).Furthermore, he is initially influenced by his high-school crush Charlie: “I …
tattooed his words on to my brain. Levi’s, with an open-necked shirt… I would never go out in anything else for the rest of my life” (Kureishi 16-17).
His clothing style changes throughout the novel, in accordance with the changes in English society: from his “flower-patterned see-through shirt, blue suede boots with Cuban heels” (Kureishi6). And drinking tea and cycling (Kureishi 62). Because he is grown up in the 1970s, Karim constructs his cultural identity according to British youth trends (Cleven22-23).
Secondly, as Cleven (23) asserts, Karim and the other characters of the novel are greatly attempting to improve their position in society. For instance , Karim is aware of his parents social class – they belong to the lower middle class- but , he tries by any way to ascend his social degree so as to change his social status and have more chances to be integrated in the British society. The language of his father is unfamiliar for him as well, he even decides to lose his accent for the sake of his social rise (Kureishi 174): “At that moment I resolved to lose my accent: whatever it is, it would go. I would speak like her . .
. I’d left my world; I had to, to get on” (Kureishi178).