The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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The Buddha of Suburbia: Part 2, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The play is so successful that the cast does extra shows, and Karim begins getting up late in the afternoon so he can drink late after the show and doesn't have to spend the morning stressing about the show. He gets an agent and finally has money, and Pyke asks the cast if they'd like to tour in New York.
Karim achieves success at last by accepting that his identity as an Indian man sells, though shifting his schedule suggests that his depression and anxiety are worsening: playing to stereotypes has its price.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim asks Pyke if he can stop by over the weekend. Pyke agrees but when Karim arrives, he makes Karim wait while he takes a shower. Karim wanders through the room and tries to choose something to steal for Terry and the Party, but he doesn't know what anything is worth. Marlene comes in, dressed for painting, and unenthusiastically asks Karim for a kiss. She makes him kiss her deeply, but Pyke interrupts them by irritably demanding she tell him where his sandalwood body shampoo is. Pyke and Marlene argue and it comes to light that Karim and Eleanor are no longer together. Marlene is upset that Pyke broke them up.
Making Karim wait is another of Pyke's power plays. As such, it reinforces for Karim that no matter how successful he becomes, Pyke will always be more powerful because of his social standing. Similarly, when Marlene coerces Karim into kissing her she also asserts her dominance—though Pyke knocks her down by arguing with her about something as silly as shampoo.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim asks Pyke if they can deal with his matter now, and Marlene insults Pyke as she leaves the room. Karim explains to Pyke that he's working for the Party and wants 300 pounds. Pyke kindly writes Karim a check for 500 pounds and cautions him to not let the Party use him. When Karim asks Eleanor for money at the theatre one night, she mostly ignores him. She refuses to give him money and tries to talk about Gene. She tells Karim that the Party doesn't serve black people.
Pyke's nonchalance about the whole thing suggests that he has more in common with Terry than Terry would like to believe. He's more than willing to support the Party, though he's not going to go out of his way to do so, just like Karim observed that Terry is still well off despite espousing ideals of equality and taking down the wealthy.
Themes
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
On 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 finds Terry's flat, and Terry is inside lifting weights. Terry is thrilled and surprised that Karim actually got money from Pyke, but he isn't excited to hear that Karim is going to America to perform. He insists that America is awful and racist, while England is at a perfect point to experience real change politically.
At this point, the novel is about a year away from Margaret Thatcher's victory. Terry's assertion that America (and not England) is racist shows that he doesn't truly empathize with Karim or support his success. It's also worth keeping in mind that America is in a similar spot politically to England in the late seventies; Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 in a similar conservative backlash.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
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Karim insists that all the socially liberal ideas come from America—the women's movement, gay militancy, and the black rebellion—and he calls Terry ignorant. Terry insists that he just finds it strange that Karim would go after what Pyke did to him, but he refuses to explain what the rumors are. Terry says that Karim doesn't care about anything.
Terry's idealism keeps him from recognizing that a lot of the western world is doing the exact same thing and experiencing a backlash against the progressive ideas and policies of the sixties and seventies.
Themes
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim thinks that people who only understand things halfway, like Terry, drive him crazy. He thinks of one of Dad's meditation students who only spoke about things he had practical experience with. Terry invites Karim to move in with him, but Karim approaches Terry and puts his hand between Terry's legs. Terry tells Karim to stop, but Karim isn't gentle. Karim meets Terry's eyes and sees that Terry desperately wants to understand Karim, and trusts that Karim won't hurt him. Karim moves away, shakes Terry's hand, and leaves.
When Karim thinks of Dad's meditation student, it shows that he recognizes that Terry's beliefs aren't based in practical experience at all. Terry's openness with Karim in the face of this kind of aggressiveness impresses Terry's humanity upon Karim. This in turn makes Terry another marker of Karim's growing maturity and understanding that other people are individuals.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon