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 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Karim begins to suspect that Pyke is messing with him after his experience at supper, and vows to investigate the matter. He notes Pyke is a good director for a number of reasons and goes over Karim's scenes with him again and again, and when the play premiers in northern England, Karim's character is a hit. His stereotypically Indian character gets the laughs, which incenses his romantic counterpart. After the third performance she calls Pyke to complain. Pyke had left for London to sleep with a barrister, but tells Karim's counterpart that Karim is the key to the play.
When Pyke leaves his fledging production to sleep with someone, it betrays that he thinks far more highly of his own personal research than he does of any of the individuals involved in the play. Though Pyke stands up for Karim as a person, he also defends Karim's character—a character that's described as overtly stereotypical and racist. This once again proves Pyke's self-absorption and racism.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
After a ten-city tour, Karim and the group return to London to prepare for their London run. 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 successful.
By placing Pyke in a comparison with these other theatre professionals, Karim shows again that maturity and success are relative. This recognizes the individuality of these people, which is indicative of Karim's maturity.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim takes a break and goes to visit Changez. He barely recognizes him: Changez has had a haircut and seems exceptionally happy, now that the assault case against Anwar has been dropped. When Changez offers to run to the store, Karim asks Simon and another girl how Changez is doing. They both like him, and Karim reasons that Changez must've left out that his family owns racehorses and he loves to analyze the essential qualities of servants.
The fact that Changez either left out his wealthy youth or was able to make it palatable for his housemates shows that Changez is becoming more involved and interested in Jamila's studies. It shows, too, that he's very adept at figuring out how to curry loyalty.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Later, Changez tells Karim that he loves the communal life, especially the nudity. When he begins to say that he can't stay in the commune Karim is shocked, but Changez admits that Jamila has begun having sex with Simon. Changez listens to them have sex every night, but refuses to change rooms because he likes to listen to Jamila move. Karim informs him that his love for her is stupid.
When Karim talks disparagingly about Changez's love for Jamila, it mirrors him telling Eleanor to take better care of himself. This shows that Karim is still very selfish himself, and believes that having a bit of selfishness is essential to having a relationship with someone that's actually fulfilling.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF
As they walk around south London, Karim realizes how derelict this neighborhood is. As Karim surveys the unhealthy people around them, Changez says what Karim is thinking: that this neighborhood makes him feel at home.
Though Changez is talking about India, the fact that Karim agrees with him makes it clear that Karim will never be able to escape his suburban roots.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Several days later, Jamila calls Karim to tell him that Changez had been attacked by a group of National Front members who thought he was Pakistani. She says that the police suggested Changez had laid down and hurt himself. Karim is angry, and Jamila invites him along to an anti-fascist march on Saturday. The week before the march, Karim notices that Eleanor doesn't seem happy. Karim begins staying in instead of going out with her, as he finds the parties with her friends boring. He invites Eleanor to the march with him. Karim is surprised, given what happened to Gene, that she's not fully on board.
When Jamila says that the police didn't believe Changez's account, it shows that the systems of power that dehumanize non-white English people are extensive, and even the branches that are supposed to protect people cannot do so. This underscores the sense of fear that Jamila has felt all her life and suggests that politically, things are reaching a tipping point.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
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 sits outside Pyke's house for hours and finally watches Eleanor knock on Pyke's door, and Pyke admit her. Karim knows the march is in full swing, but he decides to stay and wait for Eleanor and possibly ride with her to the march later.
Though Karim misses the march for a selfish reason, he does so because he feels betrayed by Eleanor. This shows that even if he encourages Changez and Jamila in their unconventional relationship, he still desires the kind of loyalty he grew up watching for himself.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent 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. Eleanor explains that Pyke is exciting and she'll continue sleeping with him. She puts her head on Karim's shoulder and tells him that she can't handle men telling her what to do, and she wants to continue sleeping with Pyke.
Notice that Eleanor's explanation very closely mirrors the way that Pyke thinks about sex: it's interesting and exciting, but it doesn't require him to consider anyone's feelings but his own. This shows that Eleanor and Pyke are very much linked by their class.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Karim darts out the closing train doors and vows to break up with Eleanor. He thinks that Gene died because the English told him that they hated him, and wonders why men like himself and Gene chase English women. He thinks that men like them stare daily into the eyes of men like Hairy Back and the Great Dane, but must free themselves of resentment--an impossible task given how the English treat them.
Though Eleanor proves unreliable, it's important to remember that Mum was a faithful and caring partner to Dad for many years, which may explain why Karim in particular wants to pursue English women.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Karim spends a week feeling depressed. He's not even excited for the opening of the play and feels as though his lines are meaningless, but 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 real people. Eva approaches Karim and praises the play, but she seems distraught that Dad is talking to Mum. Shadwell approaches Eva and Karim, but Karim leaves before Shadwell can speak.
In the years since the divorce, Karim has had the opportunity to get to know his parents as individuals and as people separate from their roles as parents. Now, what he's learned since the divorce stands in stark contrast to his childhood memories, which shows that he's still struggling to grow up.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Karim 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 Party needs Karim to get money from two people. Karim agrees and tries to leave Terry before Terry tells him who those two people are, and Karim is shocked to hear that Terry wants money from Pyke and Eleanor. Karim tries to refuse, but finally agrees.
When Karim tries to refuse, it suggests he's developing a better sense of loyalty—though to people who haven't shown him the same kind of loyalty, which recalls Karim's early assertion that he likes interesting people more than nice people.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim unexpectedly finds Changez standing in front of him. Changez is congratulatory and seems happier than usual. He explains that Jamila is expecting a baby. Simon is the father, but the entire commune will share the baby. Before Karim can leave, Changez pulls Karim close and says that since Karim kept his character autobiographical and not a character sketch, he's not upset.
Changez's happiness with Jamila's pregnancy shows that he's decided he's more interested in having some semblance of family than he is in having a particular version of a family. This is a major step for Changez and represents his assimilation into Jamila's world.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Jamila approaches Karim and Changez. Simon is with her, his face bandaged, and Jamila looks angry. Karim tries to congratulate them on the baby, but Jamila demands to know why Karim wasn't at the demonstration. Karim tries to 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 through. Karim insists it's just a job as Mum goes on to insult Dad and Eva.
Jamila sees Karim's absence as representing disloyalty to her as well as to the issue. When comparing Mum's critique here to her delight at The Jungle Book, it shows that even if Mum married an Indian man, she's unable to escape the imperialist thought patterns inherent to her own identity as a white woman.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim surveys the foyer and sees that nobody seems to need to talk to him, so he walks out and towards the Thames. He realizes that a woman is following him. Karim tries to think about Eleanor, but finds he's too curious about his stalker. He yells at her, but she just compliments his performance. They walk together until she points out that Heater is also following Karim. When Heater threatens Karim, Karin rushes at him and head butts him. Karim and his follower run away and he discovers that his hands are bleeding—Heater sews razor blades into his lapels.
Karim's acceptance of his follower here recalls the day that Helen met him after school. Both show that he likes attention, even if it comes, in this case, with questionable regard for boundaries. Heater's actions suggest that things might not be over between Karim and Eleanor, which opens up the possibility that Eleanor is being disloyal to both Heater and Karim.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon