The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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The Buddha of Suburbia: Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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. Changez is initially flattered and then suspicious, and makes Karim promise to not portray him in a bad light.
The fact that Karim asks Changez's permission to portray him shows how much Karim has matured. He's learning that respect is extremely important if he wishes to maintain these friendships and relationships.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim changes the subject and asks about Shinko. Changez 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 Changez was exploiting Shinko, but after a few days, Jamila realized that Shinko was actually exploiting Changez. Changez looks into the distance before telling Karim, with emotion, that he'd give up every sex position he's ever tried if he could kiss Jamila.
Changez is chafing because of what he perceives as Jamila's lack of loyalty to him and to their marriage. Though this is an understandable emotion, it also shows how much stock Changez places in his idealized vision of marriage to Jamila. Though it's arguable that he has the option to do what Dad did and divorce Jamila to find happiness with Shinko, he's too bound up in tradition and loyalty.
Themes
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Social and Political Discontent 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 insists that Karim has no morals. He continues that Karim cannot use his character for the play, and Karim is forced to agree.
Again, the simple fact that Karim agrees to Changez's terms suggests that he's coming of age and developing a more nuanced conception of loyalty.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim bikes quickly to Eleanor's flat to 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 that Karim must leave, as Eleanor is too depressed today. Karim slips around Heater, locks the door, and insults him through the window. When Karim enters Eleanor's bedroom he finds her naked and ironing shirts, crying. She can't or won't speak and Karim thinks she's half crazy. He unplugs the iron, puts her to bed, and notices a photo of a black man on her nightstand.
When Karim puts his own desires aside to care for Eleanor, it's more evidence that he's becoming less self-centered and more loyal to those around him. Karim's fear that he knows no other black people is indicative of his identification with his English identity more than his Indian half, and shows that his community of Indian friends is limited to Anwar's family and Changez.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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Karim settles in to think about Changez. He realizes this is one of the first moral dilemmas he's ever faced, and notices that he's developing a sense of guilt as he gets older. When 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 when he gets in fully clothed. Eleanor asks him to undress and they have sex. Karim tells the reader he was stunned by sex with Eleanor, as she did whatever she wanted when she wanted it. They start having sex in the bathroom during rehearsal regularly, and often have sex in strange places.
Karim's thought process as he sits with Eleanor shows him recognizing the individuality of both Eleanor and Changez, and their rights to conduct their lives as they see fit. When Eleanor rewards this behavior with sex, it impresses upon Karim that caring for others and being empathetic will get him what he wants more than simply taking from people.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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 Eleanor was in love with someone else. It also becomes extremely important to Karim that the other actors like his new character, and he rehearses his Changez character frequently. When Karim finally performs Changez, Tracey starts to object, but Pyke insists that the play will be perfect.
Despite taking positive steps towards maturity, Karim shows he's still young and selfish when he chooses to portray Changez anyway. However, he positions this decision as being one that will hopefully curry favor with the other actors, a desire borne out of his guilt and sense of responsibility to others.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim keeps his distance from Pyke until one day his bike chain snaps, and Pyke begins driving Karim to and from rehearsal. As he drives, Pyke tells Karim about his favorite hobby: attending orgies and having sex with as many women as possible who hold as many different jobs as possible. He's especially interested in women in office and his wife, Marlene, joins him in these endeavors. Karim finds this very exciting, though he thinks Pyke's desire to experience sex like this shows that he's self-obsessed.
Pyke shows that he represents the kind of sexual freedom that Karim idolized and conflated with the city. Though this makes Pyke seem very attractive, it also reveals that Pyke doesn't necessarily recognize the individuality and humanity of his sex partners, which suggests he's not a character to be trusted.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Related Quotes
One day, Pyke generously tells Karim that he has a present for Karim: Marlene wants to have sex with him. Karim isn't flattered and doesn't want to seem ungrateful, but he knows he has to be 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 boyfriend committed suicide in a horrible way. Karim pretends he knew, but he is shocked and devastated that nobody told him. As Karim gets out of the car, Pyke asks him to bring Eleanor to his house on Saturday for supper.
It's important to notice and remember that Karim doesn't fixate on Pyke's admission that he orchestrated Karim's relationship with Eleanor, as this becomes a major sticking point later. Instead, Karim's fixation on Eleanor's boyfriend's death suggests that he's far more interested in Eleanor's transgressions in terms of loyalty than he is in Pyke's for now.
Themes
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When Karim gets home, Dad is busy writing. Karim realizes that he's beginning to see Dad as a separate person, not just as a father, and he finds it distressing. He finds it particularly distressing that he now notices how helpless Dad is—Dad doesn't even know how to make toast, because he's always had women to do it for him. Karim feels let down by him. When Dad starts telling Karim to insist on the lead in Pyke's play, Karim insults Dad and goes to the pub.
As Karim starts to think of Dad as an entirely separate entity, it shows that Karim is entering independent adulthood whether he likes it or not. Now that Karim is becoming more independent, Dad's helplessness no longer signifies his wealthy upbringing. Instead, it represents an inability to assimilate in his chosen country.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
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 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 concerned that the rich are taking over Karim's mind and she invites him over for spicy Indian food.
For Eva, dinner with Pyke is nothing more than a way for her to continue her ascent up the social hierarchy of London society. However, this is true for her because she doesn't face the race barriers to advancement that Karim does.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon