The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Mum is Karim's mother. She's a plump and generally miserable Englishwoman, though she went to art school and enjoys drawing. She works in a shoe shop. Mum is devastated when her husband, Haroon, leaves her for Eva. She spends months living with her sister, Jean, during which time she mostly lies in bed and does nothing. Karim doesn't visit her much during this time. Later in the novel, Mum moves back into the house she once shared with Haroon. She makes it her own and Karim notes that she suddenly seems to enjoy cleaning. She also diets and makes over her wardrobe. Allie confides in Karim at the end of the novel that Mum has a boyfriend, Jimmy. He's much younger than Mum, and Mum doesn't want him knowing about Allie or Karim so she doesn't have to admit how old she is. Regardless, Karim thinks that Mum seems very happy with him.

Mum Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Mum or refer to Mum. 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 1 Quotes

But divorce wasn't something that would occur to them. In the suburbs people rarely dreamed of striking out for happiness. It was all familiarity and endurance: security and safety were the reward of dullness.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Mum
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

If Mum was irritated by Dad's aristocratic uselessness, she was also proud of his family. "They're higher than the Churchills," she said to people...This ensured there would be no confusion between Dad and the swarms of Indian peasants who came to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, and of whom it was said they were not familiar with cutlery and certainly not with toilets...

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Mum (speaker), Haroon (Dad)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

Watching this, I was developing my own angry theories of love. Surely love had to be something more generous than this high-spirited egotism-à-deux? In their hands love seemed a narrow-eyed, exclusive, selfish bastard, to enjoy itself at the expense of a woman who now lay in bed in Auntie Jean's house, her life unconsidered. Mum's wretchedness was the price Dad had chosen to pay for his happiness. How could he have done it?

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Eva, Mum
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 15 Quotes

You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there's a day when you turn round, catch them unexpectedly, and they're just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Mum
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Mum Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Mum appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...his father, Haroon, comes home from work in a good mood—an unusual event. Dad greets Mum, Karim, and Karim's little brother, Allie. Then, instead of watching television, Dad strips to his... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Mum comes upstairs and immediately looks suspicious, as Dad hasn't practiced yoga for months: she knows... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...he stands, gets dressed, and declares that he can feel himself getting old. He asks Mum if she'd join him at Mrs. Kay's party that night, but Mum refuses. She insists... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...the back room. The beer makes Dad sad and moody, and he tells Karim that Mum isn't making effort in their relationship. When Karim suggests they get a divorce, Dad says... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim explains that Mum finds Eva horrible, but that he thinks she's the only adult he can talk to.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Mum appears in the bathroom doorway looking tired and disappointed. She asks Karim to make her... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
For the next week, Dad refuses to speak. He mimes and points to things, and Mum cries in frustration. Karim explains that both Mum and Dad work, Dad as a civil... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
One day during what Karim terms "the Great Sulk," he opens up Mum's sketchpad. He finds a drawing of Dad and Eva, naked. Eva is drawn slightly larger... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...and invites Karim to attend his "appearance" that night. Dad asks Karim to not tell Mum and says that they're both growing up together. Karim wonders if there's anything true in... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...didn't realize how complicated life is: he'd never cooked or cleaned before coming to England. Mum was both irritated by Dad's lack of skills and proud of him, as his family... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...instead of studying law. Anwar and Dad went to dances on Saturdays, where Dad met Mum. Though Anwar kissed women, he was already married to Jeeta, a princess. Not long after... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...ugly, hairy jacket. As they walk through the neighborhood, Karim thinks of a time when Mum looked at Dad as if to ask why he couldn't give her a house like... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...tries to work out why Ted and Jean are here tonight. He reasons that when Mum heard that Dad was appearing again, she called her sister Jean. Jean would've been angry... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
When Karim and Dad get home, Mum is waiting for them in the hall. She's on the phone, presumably with Jean. Before... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...to host lavish parties during the summer. Karim and Allie always loved the parties, while Mum and Dad always looked out of place. This was partially because of their low status,... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...on Karim and begins to say that she and Ted never had a problem with Mum marrying a "colored" man. She goes on and mentions how disfigured and crazy Eva is,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...that Eva is in his life to stay. He feels as though she's there while Mum and Dad watch TV at night, and he puzzles over whether Dad is meeting Eva... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Ted ignores Karim and takes Mum out to the garden, presumably to talk about Dad. When they're done talking Ted goes... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...their marriage. Ted walks out of the bedroom with the record player, sobbing, much to Mum's surprise. Dad explains that he released Ted. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
After that incident, Karim begins to fear that Mum and Dad will murder each other. The following Saturday, he bikes to Anwar and Jeeta's... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...blackmailing Dad by telling him she's seeing other men, but asks if Dad has told Mum everything. Dad admits that he can't tell Mum because she'll suffer, and he'd rather suffer... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...she stares off as though she doesn't care about her father. Helen attempts to engage Mum in conversation about Buddhism, and Karim finds the whole conversation absurd. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim asks what'll happen to his family, and asks what will happen to Mum. Dad gets up to go talk to her. Karim gets up too and walks outside.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
When Karim gets home, Mum and Dad are in the bedroom and Allie is banging on their door. Ted and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...He thinks the interesting people, like Eva, make you see things differently. Nice people, like Mum, deserve love, but people like Eva end up with everything in the end. (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
Karim calls Mum every day and finally decides to visit her. As he walks to Jean and Ted's... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Mum has spent all her time in bed since she moved in with Jean, but Ted... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Mum is curled up in a pink nightie and looks miserable. Karim is afraid her unhappiness... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim kisses Mum and tries to sneak out without saying goodbye to anyone, but Ted grabs Karim again.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...on love, namely that their love seems selfish as it came at the expense of Mum. Karim can't fathom how Dad was able to do it, but takes heart that Dad... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...London, and Karim suspects she wants to try to distract Dad from his misery about Mum. It's a futile attempt; Karim recounts being in the car with them one day and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Rehearsals for The Jungle Book don't start until fall, so Karim moves back in with Mum until then. He watches her slowly transform herself and the house into her own space,... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim invites Mum, Ted, and Jean to a preview of The Jungle Book, and Mum weeps with pride.... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...divorce. The other actors watch from Terry's table. As he rambles Karim realizes he neglected Mum by leaving her at Jean's, and Pyke offers Karim a part in his next production.... (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
...now famous, and how Karim himself is now a successful actor, but he fixates on Mum's pain and Gene's death. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...Anwar, but Dad refuses to go. He and Anwar had fallen out after he left Mum, though Karim explains that Dad and Mum had since begun speaking on the phone. Anwar... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the critics love it. When Karim goes to the foyer after the show, he sees Mum and Dad talking. He thinks that they look old and, for the first time, like... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...say that he was rehearsing, but Jamila won't have it. As Karim turns to leave, Mum approaches him and insists that he's not at all Indian; he's an Englishman through and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
At Mum's house, Karim finds Mum out and Allie getting dressed. Allie is extremely impressed that Karim... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Allie congratulates Karim again on the soap opera, and then tells him that Mum has a boyfriend. His name is Jimmy and Mum doesn't want him to know that... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim admits that everything went crazy after Mum and Dad broke up. Allie angrily says that he doesn't have time for people like... (full context)
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Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Mum arrives. She's reasonably pleased that Karim has a job and mentions she has a friend... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Dad asks about Mum and seems shocked to hear that Mum is doing well and seeing a man. Dad... (full context)