The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Eleanor Character Analysis

Eleanor is a beautiful but troubled actress that Karim meets through Pyke. She's in the same production as Karim, and Karim decides to pursue her when he learns that she worked with a performance artist who stored poems in her vagina. Eleanor is extremely depressed, and Karim finds out months after they begin their relationship why: Eleanor's last boyfriend, Gene, committed suicide. Karim does his best to care for Eleanor and make her happy, which he finds is a difficult job as Eleanor hates herself and requires constant praise and compliments. However, she's very adventurous sexually and she and Karim have sex whenever Eleanor wants to. Karim also understands fairly quickly that though Eleanor pretends to be middle class, she's actually not. Eleanor's parents are wealthy and famous, and Eleanor grew up going to prep schools and Italy. She has what Karim deems a particular combination of class, money, and status, and doesn't even know it. Karim decides that this is truly what makes the upper class the way they are, as they don't understand their privilege. Karim's relationship with Eleanor ends when she informs Karim that she intends to continue having sex with Pyke, to whom she is extremely attracted. Karim is distraught as he truly loves Eleanor, and is even more hurt when he discovers that Pyke orchestrated their relationship.

Eleanor Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Eleanor or refer to Eleanor. 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:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Buddha of Suburbia published in 1991.
Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

Eleanor's set, with their combination of class, culture and money, and their indifference to all three, was exactly the cocktail that intoxicated Eva's soul, but she could never get near it. This was unforced bohemia; this was what she sought; this was the apogee.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Eva, Eleanor
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

For Eleanor's crowd hard words and sophisticated ideas were in the air they breathed from birth, and this language was the currency that bought you the best of what the world could offer. But for us it could only ever be a second language, consciously acquired.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Eleanor
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

As I sat there I began to recognize that this was one of the first times in my life I'd been aware of having a moral dilemma. Before, I'd done exactly what I wanted; desire was my guide and I was inhibited by nothing but fear. But now, at the beginning of my twenties, something was growing in me. Just as my body had changed at puberty, now I was developing a sense of guilt, a sense not only of how I appeared to others, but of how I appeared to myself...

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Changez, Matthew Pyke, Eleanor
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 15 Quotes

And we pursued English roses as we pursued England; by possessing these prizes, this kindness and beauty, we stared defiantly into the eye of the Empire and all its self-regard—into the eye of Hairy Back, into the eye of the Great Fucking Dane. We became part of England and yet proudly stood outside it.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Matthew Pyke, Eleanor, Gene, Hairy Back
Related Symbols: The Great Dane
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Eleanor Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Eleanor appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 11
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...are solid, cynical actors; there's one black woman, Tracey; and a beautiful redheaded actress named Eleanor. Louise, the writer, also attends rehearsals. Karim notes that he's never been more enthusiastic about... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim is cheered by his progress with Eleanor. She invites him over after rehearsal nearly daily. Karim recognizes that something in her needs... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Eleanor cries every few hours and holds Karim, but she refuses to have sex with him.... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
One night when Heater is out, Karim and Eleanor watch TV and gossip. Karim is distracted and not listening, and Eleanor asks Karim for... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim also realizes that when he talks with Eleanor, her stories are far more important. He thinks about telling her about the Great Dane,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim bikes quickly to Eleanor's flat to discuss the end of his acting career; he knows no other "black" people... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...Karim can't figure out what to do he gets up to leave, but sees that Eleanor is awake and smiling. She asks him to get in bed with her and laughs... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Sometimes, Karim is afraid of how much he loves Eleanor. He tells the reader that his love soured quickly as he began to fear that... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...careful given the extent of Pyke's fame and power. Karim finally says that he's dating Eleanor, and Pyke admits that he told Eleanor to date him. Pyke mentions that Eleanor's last... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
At the pub, Karim ruminates on Eleanor's boyfriend. He feels as though his life is getting extremely weird, and decides to consult... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
On Saturday, Karim and Eleanor dress up and take the train to Pyke's house. Karim studies the house and thinks... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
A servant girl lets Karim and Eleanor in, seats them in the living room, and explains that Pyke and Marlene are "dressing."... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...He thinks that Terry must have underestimated Pyke's wealth, as the furnishings are extremely expensive. Eleanor returns as Pyke and Marlene make their way down the stairs. Karim thinks that Marlene... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Suddenly, Pyke stands and opens the doors to the backyard. Eleanor stands and follows him out, leaving Marlene inside with Karim. Marlene gets herself another drink... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...to think of where he is. Though he barely recognizes them, he watches Pyke and Eleanor touch each other across the room. Karim looks up later to see Pyke coming to... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Marlene walks around Pyke and Eleanor, exclaiming about what a beautiful couple they are. Pyke snaps at her to stop. Dreamily,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...a break in rehearsal, Karim begins working for Eva, clearing the debris in her flat. Eleanor asks Karim if she can share the job. Karim explains that Eva has become crisper... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Karim and Eleanor work all day, shower at Eleanor's flat in the evenings, and dress in black to... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
After Karim and Eleanor finish work for Eva, Karim goes to spend some time with Jeeta and Jamila. He... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...along to an anti-fascist march on Saturday. The week before the march, Karim notices that Eleanor doesn't seem happy. Karim begins staying in instead of going out with her, as he... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...others at the march later. Karim sits outside Pyke's house for hours and finally watches Eleanor knock on Pyke's door, and Pyke admit her. Karim knows the march is in full... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Three hours later, Eleanor re-emerges from Pyke's house. Karim follows her onto the tube and asks her what she's... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim darts out the closing train doors and vows to break up with Eleanor. He thinks that Gene died because the English told him that they hated him, and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...people are, and Karim is shocked to hear that Terry wants money from Pyke and Eleanor. Karim tries to refuse, but finally agrees. (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the Thames. He realizes that a woman is following him. Karim tries to think about Eleanor, but finds he's too curious about his stalker. He yells at her, but she just... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...body shampoo is. Pyke and Marlene argue and it comes to light that Karim and Eleanor are no longer together. Marlene is upset that Pyke broke them up. (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...500 pounds and cautions him to not let the Party use him. When Karim asks Eleanor for money at the theatre one night, she mostly ignores him. She refuses to give... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...Karim and the cast attend a lavish party in a tall apartment building. Karim watches Eleanor and wonders what he'd been thinking during their relationship. Dr. Bob, the man who runs... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...people in the apartment they'd have sex with if they could. Karim tries to ask Eleanor to leave with him, but Pyke makes Karim stay. Pyke reads out the predictions he'd... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the room and tries to call Charlie, who's living in New York, and he asks Eleanor to leave the party with him. Eleanor tries to explain to that she'll be going... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Charlie invites Karim to stay with him when Karim tells him about Eleanor. Karim is fascinated to see that Charlie is both embracing his English-ness and eager to... (full context)