The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Matthew Pyke Character Analysis

Matthew Pyke is one of the most prestigious theatre directors in London. He works in a freeform style in which he asks his actors to develop characters, and then employs a writer to write a play using the created characters. The process takes months. He expresses an interest in Karim after seeing his performance in Shadwell's The Jungle Book, and casts him in his next play. Though Shadwell warns Karim that Pyke is intense, unpredictable, and will destroy Karim, Karim takes the part anyway. Karim does discover that Shadwell wasn't wrong about Pyke: Pyke plays mind games with the actors, including making secret predictions at the beginning of the production about who will have sex with whom, and then revealing his (correct) predictions at a party in New York. When he reveals that he was responsible for orchestrating Eleanor's interest and relationship with Karim, Karim is extremely hurt and angry. Pyke and his wife, Marlene, are also interested in group sex, and he's very open with his actors about this and his sexual interests in general. When he and Marlene invite Karim and Eleanor to have sex with them at their house, Pyke tries to force Karim to give him oral sex. This, coupled with Pyke's interest in having sex with Eleanor, begins to sour Karim's admiration for Pyke. Despite this, Pyke does teach Karim what a polished theatre production looks like.

Matthew Pyke Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Matthew Pyke or refer to Matthew Pyke. 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 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:

With their poking into life's odd corners, Pyke and Marlene seemed to me to be more like intrepid journalists than swimmers in the sensual. Their desire to snuggle up to real life betrayed a basic separation from it. And their obsession with how the world worked just seemed another form of self-obsession.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Matthew Pyke, Marlene
Page Number: 191
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:
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Matthew Pyke Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Matthew Pyke appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 10
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...night, the box office manager rings backstage to tell the actors that the director Matthew Pyke had booked a ticket. Within moments, the room reaches a fever pitch. Karim has no... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...is his call and they must go. At the pub, Karim watches several actors approach Pyke and be unceremoniously brushed off. (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Terry tells Karim that critics call Pyke's work puritanical because he likes bare stages and no props, but his personal life isn't... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
When Karim suggests that he might not want to work in such a vague way, Pyke declares that the play will be about class, the only available subject. Pyke and Karim... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...but soon raises his voice and bellows that Karim isn't experienced enough to deal with Pyke. He's loud enough the audience can hear. Shadwell insists that Pyke is elitist, paranoid, and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Rehearsals for Pyke's play begin in the spring. Karim is one of three men and three women in... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
On the fourth day, Pyke plays a game that Karim finds disturbing. Pyke tells the group he's going to make... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
After a few weeks, Pyke sends the actors out to begin researching characters, which Louise will then need to somehow... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Not long after, Pyke has the cast present their characters for the rest of the group. After Karim performs... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...discuss the end of his acting career; he knows no other "black" people and fears Pyke will fire him. Heater is coming out of Eleanor's door as Karim arrives and insists... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...rehearses his Changez character frequently. When Karim finally performs Changez, Tracey starts to object, but Pyke insists that the play will be perfect. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim keeps his distance from Pyke until one day his bike chain snaps, and Pyke begins driving Karim to and from... (full context)
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One day, Pyke generously tells Karim that he has a present for Karim: Marlene wants to have sex... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...weird, and decides to consult others on his situation. Eva is thrilled to hear that Pyke invited Karim to supper, though Karim leaves out telling her about Pyke's offer. Jamila is... (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 of what Terry had told him about Pyke.... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...girl lets Karim and Eleanor in, seats them in the living room, and explains that Pyke and Marlene are "dressing." Eleanor wonders why Pyke invited them over and haughtily tells Karim... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
..."class detective" and looks around the living room. He thinks that Terry must have underestimated Pyke's wealth, as the furnishings are extremely expensive. Eleanor returns as Pyke and Marlene make their... (full context)
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As they smoke, Pyke's sullen teenage son walks into the living room. Pyke nonchalantly mentions to his son that... (full context)
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Suddenly, Pyke stands and opens the doors to the backyard. Eleanor stands and follows him out, leaving... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...he has 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... (full context)
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Marlene walks around Pyke and Eleanor, exclaiming about what a beautiful couple they are. Pyke snaps at her to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...what a creative lifestyle can be like, and he adores it. Further, he realizes that Pyke taught him this, and Karim therefore doesn't resent Pyke for what he did to him. (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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...his jazz recommendations. Karim wishes he could stay at the commune, but the opening of Pyke's play is weeks away, and Karim is frightened. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
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Karim begins to suspect that Pyke is messing with him after his experience at supper, and vows to investigate the matter.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...It will run at an arts center, and the people who run the center make Pyke seem old-fashioned. Everyone seems concerned only with questioning whether or not the play will be... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
On the morning 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... (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 doing with Pyke.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...finds Terry at the bar. Terry is still incensed that he wasn't a part of Pyke's play. Karim tries to leave, but Terry chases after him. He says it's time: the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the morning stressing about the show. He gets an agent and finally has money, and Pyke asks the cast if they'd like to tour in New York. (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim asks Pyke if he can stop by over the weekend. Pyke agrees but when Karim arrives, he... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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Karim asks Pyke if they can deal with his matter now, and Marlene insults Pyke as she leaves... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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...is inside lifting weights. Terry is thrilled and surprised that Karim actually got money from Pyke, but he isn't excited to hear that Karim is going to America to perform. He... (full context)
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...ignorant. Terry insists that he just finds it strange that Karim would go after what Pyke did to him, but he refuses to explain what the rumors are. Terry says that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
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Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Later that night as Karim sits with most of the cast in a bedroom, Pyke begins a game that sets Karim on edge. He asks the actors which one of... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the party with him. Eleanor tries to explain to that she'll be going home with Pyke. Karim tries to punch Pyke as he comes out of the bedroom, but he's too... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...impressed that Karim landed the soap opera. When Karim questions his enthusiasm, Allie insists that Pyke's play was too idealistic. Allie obviously enjoys this topic and continues to say that he... (full context)