The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Buddha of Suburbia can help.

Uncle Ted Character Analysis

Uncle Ted is Jean's husband. At the beginning of the novel he owns a central heating business, which is questionably successful. Regardless, he and Jean can afford to live in the upscale neighborhood of Chiselhurst. Ted and Dad like each other a lot and Ted often fixes things around Dad's house in exchange for Dad's wise counsel. When Ted and Jean become aware of Dad's relationship with Eva, Jean forces Ted to step in and try to stop it. Dad, however, "frees" Ted by insisting he works too hard. After this experience, Ted quits his job, embraces Dad's Eastern philosophy, and insists he must enjoy life. He begins working again for Eva, which makes Jean furious. However, the work pays well and Ted is happy to get to see Dad and Eva. Despite Ted's outwardly kind demeanor, Karim recounts an experience that suggests Ted is secretly racist: on a train coming home from a football match several years before the start of the novel, Ted smashed windows, lights, and cut train seats as they passed through a black neighborhood. He told Karim to throw a bulb out the window. Karim uses this experience, which Ted kept secret, to blackmail Ted into taking his side when Jean tries to butt into Dad's relationship with Eva.
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Uncle Ted Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Ted appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...other. Eva begins to organize the room, and Karim thinks Dad looks confident. Unexpectedly, Uncle Ted and Auntie Jean walk in. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim describes Ted and Jean as normal, unhappy alcoholics. They own a central heating business and call Dad... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim tries to work out why Ted and Jean are here tonight. He reasons that when Mum heard that Dad was appearing... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim explains that Dad and Ted actually like each other. Ted often confides in Dad about Jean's drinking or her affairs... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
...just going to be silent the entire time, but he finally begins hissing and speaking. Ted is engrossed while Jean looks angrily on, and Karim smiles and wanders away. He wanders... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...actually in love with each other. He remembers how Dad kissed Eva in front of Ted and Jean and wonders what's wrong with Dad. (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
The next day, Karim rides his bike in the direction of Ted and Jean's house. He decides to stop and see Helen first, as she lives nearby.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
When Karim finally arrives at Ted and Jean's house, he's in a horrible mood. Jean leads Karim into the living room... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Jean walks Ted into the room. As Jean begins to try to start the conversation, Karim cuts in... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Jean fixes her stare 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... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...day. One Sunday, Karim hears a knock at the door and opens it to find Ted. Ted mumbles something about checking on the roses in the backyard, strides inside, and asks... (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... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Ted and Dad good-naturedly insult Karim's uselessness. Ted admits that Jean sent him to check on... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Dad suddenly changes the subject and asks Ted about work. Dad gets up and pulls Ted's face into his own chest, and then... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...marriages anymore. Karim can't believe the things he's seeing people do all of their own accords—Ted's breakdown, Dad's relationship with Eva, and now Anwar's hunger strike—things that had nothing to do... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...home, Mum and Dad are in the bedroom and Allie is banging on their door. Ted and Jean arrive immediately. Jean packs for Mum and Karim packs for Allie, and then... (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
...Mum every day and finally decides to visit her. As he walks to Jean and Ted's house, Karim sees Hairy Back and the Great Dane. Karim crosses the street and walks... (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 has completely changed after talking with Dad. While he once boasted that he had ten... (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. He asks Karim to tell Dad he's appreciated. Karim nearly runs back... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
One day, Karim opens the door to Ted, tools in hand. Eva had heard from Dad that Ted was a builder, and made... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Finally, Ted finishes the house. Karim often wonders what Ted tells Jean at the end of each... (full context)
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Karim says that Ted must've talked about money, a subject that bothers even him. Eva buys things with little... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...her slowly transform herself and the house into her own space, not her family's space. Ted comes over and tends to the garden, and Karim has nightmares nearly every night. (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. They... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...his day off, Karim goes to see Terry. Terry is living in the neighborhood where Ted destroyed the train car years ago, which is rough. All the kids have Mohawks. Karim... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...begins packing up her tapes and as she and the photographer are about to leave, Ted bursts in. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Ted insists he's not that late and admits that Jean fell down the stairs. He addresses... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Ted enthusiastically tells Karim that he loves his work and that Eva saved him. Karim reminds... (full context)