The Buddha of Suburbia | Study Guide

Hanif Kureishi

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The Buddha of Suburbia | Part 1, Chapter 4 : In the Suburbs | Summary



Karim Amir feels Eva Kay's presence between his parents although she is not mentioned and she has not called. Still, Karim wonders if his father has lunchtime liaisons with her. Ted has come to visit, and, given Haroon Amir's uses for his brother-in-law, Haroon puts Ted to work repairing a broken record player. Ted reveals he has been sent by Auntie Jean to ask Haroon to give up his Buddhist practices.

Karim leaves the house and heads for Anwar's to visit Jamila, Anwar and Jeeta's daughter. Karim and Jamila have been casual lovers for years. Karim muses on his easy bisexuality, and Jeeta reveals that her refusal to accept an arranged marriage has resulted in her father's hunger fast, what Karim calls a "major Gandhi diet." The chapter closes with Karim and Jamila (nicknamed "Creamy" and "Jammie," respectively) standing close together outside her family's grocery, "holding each other and thinking about" their "respective futures."


This section illustrates the generation gap between the teenage friends and their parents. Jamila and Karim's unaffected sexuality is mutual and without strings. The adults are all suffering the responsibilities of family life and loyalty deeply affected by inherited practice and values. Anwar and Haroon's friendship holds although it has taken strange forms. The men take care of each other in the best ways they can.

Haroon has become a confidant and soother to Ted, and Ted keeps the Amir family's possessions in good repair. Despite their closeness Ted visits on behalf of his wife to convince Haroon to give up his religious convictions. The two marriages seem to be on the brink of failure while denial and adherence to traditional values dictate that the bonds remain. Karim is beginning to see the generation gap as part of the way in which he can understand himself. His father's philosophical convictions and his attraction to Eva enable Karim to see that even members of his father's generation are capable of change. Anwar, on the other hand, seems willing to die rather than give in to the failure of his prerogative to choose a husband for Jamila. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It seems unlikely that either of the marriages will end.

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