The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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

The Buddha of Suburbia: Part 2, Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
During a break in rehearsal, Karim begins working for Eva, clearing the debris in her flat. Eleanor asks Karim if she can share the job. Karim explains that Eva has become crisper and better organized over the last few years, and regularly frightens plumbers with her directness. When he asks her about employing Eleanor she insults actors and then gets huffy when Karim points out he's an actor. Karim offers her an ultimatum, and Eva finally agrees to hire Eleanor. Eva splits her time between her own flat and one in a wealthier neighborhood. It's her first big outside job.
Eva's unwillingness to see Karim as an actor betrays that she also doesn't yet see him as an adult. However, Karim's negotiation for Eleanor's hire shows a similar crispness and directness to Eva, which shows the reader at least that Karim is indeed moving towards adulthood and maturity. Eva's first outside job shows that she's finally infiltrating the upper echelons of London society and is therefore coming of age herself.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim and Eleanor work all day, shower at Eleanor's flat in the evenings, and dress in black to go out. They see plays at several theaters, and Eleanor loves the long plays about British class struggle. Karim says that those days were idyllic as he and Eleanor continued to have sex, though he felt as though terrible things were going to happen.
For Eleanor, the plays about class struggle are fantasy and fiction because of her own upper class status. Like Terry, Eleanor is able to think of them in a theoretical sense rather than a practical sense because she doesn't have the lived experience of being lower middle class.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
After Karim 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 nor Jamila expresses any desire to help Anwar, as they still hold his hunger strike against him. Jeeta becomes cruel, not speaking much to Anwar and cooking him foods that make him constipated and give him horrendous diarrhea in turn. She still asks his opinions about the grocery store, but also remodels without consulting him. Jeeta also regularly taunts Anwar about what a horrible son-in-law Changez is. 
Anwar's choice to prioritize a very specific idea of family haunts him into his old age, driving home the idea that definitions of family and loyalty absolutely must change as the times and people change. Anwar's newfound drinking and smoking habits show that he's finally beginning to give up on the religion that got him into this situation in the first place. He's changing, but too little, too late.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
One day, as Anwar returns from the mosque, he recognizes Changez walking with Shinko. Changez and Shinko had been shopping at a sex shop and are strolling home, talking about their respective homelands. Suddenly, Anwar yells and rushes at Changez in anger, waving his walking stick. Changez tries to evade Anwar, but when it becomes clear that Anwar means to do real harm, Changez hits him over the head with his new dildo. Shinko calls an ambulance, Changez is arrested for assault, and Anwar spends the next week in intensive care for heart failure.
When Changez puts his father in law in the hospital with a dildo, it's a symbolic representation of new sexual mores overpowering old, outdated traditions and belief systems. The fact that Anwar blames his fate on Changez shows that Anwar is one character who is not maturing. Rather than take responsibility for his own actions, he's punting the blame on to an easy target—an immature and self-centered thought process.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF
Karim and Jamila spend every day with 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 dies at the end of the week, and there's a small argument when the Indian men burying him find that the hole for the coffin hadn't been dug facing Mecca. As Karim watches, he realizes these people are his people. He reasons that it took him so long to realize this because Dad has spent the last twenty years trying to be as English as possible.
Karim's reasoning that Dad kept his Indian identity minimal throughout his childhood to help him shows that, unwittingly or not, Dad tried to protect Karim from the more overt racism that he would've experienced had he identified more openly as Indian. Dad and Mum's renewed contact suggests that their relationship will continue to evolve and change even after divorce.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
When the men lower the coffin down, Jamila staggers. Changez catches her and seems ecstatic to be touching her at last. Later that night, Changez, Jamila, and Karim drink beer in Jeeta's flat. Karim considers Anwar and Jamila's relationship: she'd gone from a child to an uncooperative woman overnight, and they never learned to see each other as adults.
Though Jamila herself came of age, Karim recognizes that she never did in Anwar's eyes. This shows that as a concept, coming of age is something that is in part made true when others recognize that it's happened.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Slowly, Jamila informs Changez that she's leaving their flat. Changez looks terrified as Jamila explains that she wants to live in a communal house. She puts her hand over his as she says this. Karim asks what Changez will do, and Changez asks if he can come. Jamila gently suggests he go back to India, but Changez insists he's never going back. He declares that this is all too western and that capitalism deprives people of feelings, and that he'll try to make it alone.
Jamila's suggestion that Changez's return to England shows that she really only maintained her relationship with him to appease Anwar and her loyalty to Changez is tenuous at best. However, touching him suggests that she does care for him on some level, since physical contact with her is the one thing Changez wants.
Themes
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 her. Changez nods, Karim affirms that this is a good idea, and Jamila reminds Changez that they'll never be husband and wife like he wants them to be. Jamila says that Changez might have to work to pay his way. Changez looks anxious, but they continue talking it over. Karim thinks that Jamila has truly come into herself.
As Jamila once again negotiates the terms of her marriage, she shows that familial loyalty can mean different things over the lifetime of a relationship. When Jamila becomes even more mature and adult in Karim's eyes, it shows again that coming of age is something that is recognized and supported by others.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim helps Jamila and Changez move into the communal house, which is rundown and filled with hardworking vegetarians. Changez looks terrified and uncomfortable, and Karim rushes home to add to his Changez character. Karim explains that he's discovering 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.
Through his work on this Changez character, Karim develops and explores what he wants his life to look like. This shows him taking control of his growing maturity. The fact that the character is Indian suggests that Karim is thinking more about how to integrate his Indian heritage into his identity.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim goes back to the commune several weeks later. He finds that he likes being there, though he feels stupid listening to them talk about how to craft an egalitarian society. Karim especially likes Simon, a radical lawyer, and enjoys 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.
Communal living offers a sense of loyalty and egalitarianism that Karim hasn't experienced elsewhere, while the world that Karim currently inhabits is cutthroat and devoid of any true allies. This shows that Karim still values loyalty, but he's not sure where to seek it.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon