The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Jamila Character Analysis

Jamila is Anwar and Jeeta's daughter. She's a few years older than Karim and infinitely more mature. She and Karim have sex fairly regularly as teens, though Karim notes that it was never a truly romantic relationship. As a teen, a white librarian named Miss Cutmore took Jamila on and introduced her to French novels. After Miss Cutmore moved away, Jamila took it upon herself to continue her education, while accusing Miss Cutmore of "colonizing" her. Karim notes that Jamila is far too strong-willed to be colonized by anyone. Jamila's interests are varied, and she immerses herself in the writings of Angela Davis, Simone de Beauvoir, and black writers from America. When Anwar goes on a hunger strike to bully Jamila into entering an arranged marriage, Jamila eventually gives in. Karim reasons that Jamila does so in order to rebel against rebellion itself. When Changez, her new husband, arrives from India, Jamila quickly puts him in his place. She refuses to have sex or share a bed with him, and makes him sleep on a camp bed in their living room while she sleeps and continues her studies in the bedroom. She becomes very politically active and attends anti-fascist rallies. As Karim climbs the social ladder through his theatre involvement, Jamila cautions him against allowing the rich to infiltrate his mind. When she decides to move to a communal house, Changez insists on following her. There, she has a baby with Simon. Changez parents the baby as though she's his own, and Karim notices that Jamila and Changez seem to truly respect each other at this point in their lives.

Jamila Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Jamila or refer to Jamila. 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 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

Yeah, sometimes we were French, Jammie and I, and other times we went black American. The thing was, we were supposed to be English, but to the English we were always wogs and nigs and Pakis and the rest of it.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Jamila
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

"Families aren't sacred, especially to Indian men, who talk about nothing else and act otherwise."

Related Characters: Jamila (speaker), Karim, Haroon (Dad), Anwar
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

The lives of Anwar and Jeeta and Jamila were pervaded by fear of violence...Jeeta kept buckets of water around her bed in case the shop was firebombed in the night. Many of Jamila's attitudes were inspired by the possibility that a white group might kill one of us one day.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Jamila, Anwar, Princess Jeeta
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

But as the days passed I watched Jeeta's progress. She certainly didn't want to go home. It was as if Jamila had educated her in possibility, the child being an example to the parent.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Jamila, Anwar, Princess Jeeta
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Jamila Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Jamila appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 4
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...window and doesn't see Anwar, which is unusual. Karim looks into the shop and sees Jamila, Anwar and Jeeta's daughter, stocking shelves. He and Jamila grew up together, and they began... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim finally enters the shop and greets Jeeta. Jeeta asks him to take Jamila on a walk and won't answer his questions about Anwar's whereabouts. Karim tells Jamila all... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Jamila pulls Karim into a public toilet, and he thinks that, though he doesn't believe in... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Jamila becomes serious as she begins her story. She'd begun learning martial arts, which isn't out... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...strange dowry, and Dad insisted that Anwar investigate the boy. Anwar ignored Dad and informed Jamila of his decision, and Jamila, unsurprisingly, refused. She explains to Karim that she would've left... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...and thinks that Anwar looks like he's dying. He tries to talk to Anwar, but Jamila cuts in. She asks Anwar to stop and offers him Karim's kebab. Desperately, Jamila turns... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Karim affirms Jamila's assessment, but Anwar angrily says that he can get his family to obey him by... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim kicks the pot of urine and turns to leave with Jamila, but thinks of Anwar possibly touching that bit of the sheet that the urine splashed... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...urine on his shoes, and he feels fed up with everything. Karim thinks of what Jamila might do. He thinks that Eva is the only objective person he could talk to... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim and Jamila talk daily and eventually call a meeting to decide what to do about her situation.... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim looks up and sees Jamila hurrying towards them. Karim fills Helen in on what's going on with Anwar. Jamila adds... (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
Dad is lying on his bed listening to the radio when Karim, Jamila, and Helen enter the bedroom. Dad confirms Karim's theory that old Indian men return to... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Later, when Karim, Jamila, and Helen knock on Dad's door again, they can hear Dad snoring. Helen suggests Dad's... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim and Helen accompany Jeeta and Jamila to the airport to pick up Jamila's new husband. His name is Changez, and he's... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Changez's welcome party is awkward. Jamila and Changez don't look at each other, and even Helen is unusually subdued. Karim thinks... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Jamila seems wholly resigned to her marriage. She'd called Karim the day after her decision, and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...explains that one of Anwar's relatives had been rude to her, and she's mad at Jamila for marrying Changez. Karim tells Helen to go to San Francisco. As they pass through... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim begins splitting his time between Eva's house, his parents' empty house, and Changez and Jamila's flat. He drops out of school when Charlie stops going, and Eva sets Karim up... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim spends much of his time at Changez and Jamila's two-room flat. Jamila lives in the bedroom and spends all of her time reading and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...to be able to sleep sitting. Anwar's despair soon became obvious. Karim, like Jeeta and Jamila, laughs at Anwar, but nobody is willing to say it's his own fault for bringing... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Soon, Jamila neither likes nor dislikes Changez. He tells her stories about India and asks her about... (full context)
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...explains that having children is extremely important to Changez. Recently, Anwar had asked Changez if Jamila was expecting his grandson and when Changez was silent, Anwar insulted Changez's manhood. Changez had... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...begins to tell her about the bizarre sight of watching Changez fall in love with Jamila, but Mum becomes bored. Karim then begs Mum to draw him. Finally Mum agrees, and... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...Karim again. He asks Karim to tell Dad he's appreciated. Karim nearly runs back to Jamila's flat, where she's busy studying and Changez is occupied watching her study. Changez pulls Karim... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim and Jamila have sex, and he asks her if she cares for Changez at all. Jamila insists... (full context)
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Jamila says that she's preparing for something, she just doesn't know what. She and Karim have... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim is relieved to see Jamila, Changez, and Shinko getting out of a cab. He explains to the reader that he's... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Changez and Karim shake hands. Karim insists that Jamila is her own person, not his or Changez's. Changez just looks sad. Karim and Changez... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...They go dancing afterwards and Karim is thrilled at Mum's happiness. Karim invites Dad, Eva, Jamila, and Changez to the opening night, and nobody looks happy afterwards. Dad informs Karim that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...performance artist who stored poems in her vagina, he decides to pursue her. He calls Jamila every few days to talk about rehearsals, but she isn't impressed. She suggests that bad... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...to India with him. Karim watches Jeeta and sees that she appears to have taken Jamila's example to heart: she wants to sell liquor and newspapers, and certainly doesn't want to... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...learns quickly that Eleanor hates herself and requires a great deal of praise. Karim consults Jamila about it, but Jamila insists that Eleanor is vain and self-obsessed. However, Eleanor also cares... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim goes to visit Changez. Changez is busy dusting and wearing Jamila's pink robe as Karim says that he'd like to portray Changez in his next production.... (full context)
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...happily shares that he and Shinko continue to experiment with sex positions. Karim asks how Jamila feels about the prostitution thing, and Changez says that Jamila tried briefly to insist that... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Suddenly, Changez becomes angry. He cries out that he'll make Jamila like him or he'll kill himself. Karim offers to introduce Changez to actresses, but Changez... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...that Pyke invited Karim to supper, though Karim leaves out telling her about Pyke's offer. Jamila is concerned that the rich are taking over Karim's mind and she invites him over... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...and Eleanor finish work for Eva, Karim goes to spend some time with Jeeta and Jamila. He finds Anwar in a sorry state: he smokes, drinks, and doesn't work. Neither Jeeta... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim and Jamila spend every day with Anwar, but Dad refuses to go. He and Anwar had fallen... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
When the men lower the coffin down, Jamila staggers. Changez catches her and seems ecstatic to be touching her at last. Later that... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Slowly, Jamila informs Changez that she's leaving their flat. Changez looks terrified as Jamila explains that she... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim thinks that Jamila probably didn't think it through when she asks Changez if he'd like to come with... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim helps Jamila and Changez move into the communal house, which is rundown and filled with hardworking vegetarians.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...say that he can't stay in the commune Karim is shocked, but Changez admits that Jamila has begun having sex with Simon. Changez listens to them have sex every night, but... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Several days later, Jamila calls Karim to tell him that Changez had been attacked by a group of National... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...of the march, Karim takes the tube towards Pyke's house, intending to meet up with Jamila and the others at the march later. Karim sits outside Pyke's house for hours and... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...in front of him. Changez is congratulatory and seems happier than usual. He explains that Jamila is expecting a baby. Simon is the father, but the entire commune will share the... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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Jamila approaches Karim and Changez. Simon is with her, his face bandaged, and Jamila looks angry.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...hippies are gone, and everyone is well dressed. He decides to go see Changez and Jamila. (full context)
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Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim steals a tablecloth from the Fish's apartment as a gift for Changez and Jamila. He picks up Indian takeout and passes Jeeta's shop in his taxi on the way... (full context)
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Changez explains that Simon is away in America, and Jamila is still angry with Karim for not showing up at the demonstration. Karim boasts about... (full context)
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Jamila walks into the room with Joanna and dances for the baby. She takes the baby... (full context)
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...instead. He meditates for a while but soon starts thinking about how content Changez and Jamila finally seem in their marriage. When Karim wakes later, he hears Jamila and Changez talking.... (full context)
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Changez talks about how he's renovating Jeeta's store and asks Jamila for a kiss. Karim hears Jamila oblige unhappily and wonders if he should intervene. When... (full context)
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Jamila pleads with Changez to stop, but he asks how Jamila and the others in the... (full context)
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Suddenly, Jamila hears Karim behind the sofa. Karim announces himself and insists he didn't hear anything, but... (full context)
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...Allie's girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate his new job. He also invites Changez and Jamila. They go to an expensive restaurant, and Eva is thrilled to know several people there.... (full context)