The Buddha of Suburbia | Study Guide

Hanif Kureishi

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The Buddha of Suburbia | Part 1, Chapter 6 : In the Suburbs | Summary



Karim Amir is at the airport greeting Jamila's intended, a man with a grey moustache, two double chins, and not much hair. Believing that Changez resembles the great French novelist, Karim names Jamila's intended "Not-Flaubert." Initially, Changez disappoints everyone. With a withered left arm and deformed hand, he will not be capable of taking over the grocery as Anwar had hoped. Jamila, who has made her choice to save her father further suffering, is not interested in her paunchy, conventionally unattractive bridegroom. Changez's manner, however, according to Karim, is gentle and kind. In response to Karim's interest Changez shares his nickname, "Bubble," to which Karim responds with his own, "Creamy." Thus, they are made family.

Haroon Amir's love conundrum is also solved in this chapter. He has decided to move into Eva Kay's house and convinces Karim to come to Eva's as well. Watching the happy couple, Karim comes to terms with Eva's attractiveness. He finds her authentic, kind, humorous, intelligent, and generous. Karim also visits with Charlie Kay, whom he finds entertaining his manager named Fish. Charlie invites Karim into an embrace, but when Karim attempts to turn the friendly hug into a sexual encounter, Charlie forcefully shoves Karim across the room. Downstairs, Haroon and Eva wait. Haroon launches into a long explanation about his choice for a new life, and Karim, feeling impatient, rudely stops his father's rationalizations with a question about the fate of the family. Haroon insists he will support them all, and Haroon takes his leave to speak to his wife. Before he leaves, he phones Auntie Jean, who is "drunk and abusive as usual." Announcing to her that Haroon has decided to live with Eva, he advises her to visit her sister immediately.


The organizing themes—racism, sexism with respect to racial mixing and racial identity—continue to spin out in variation. The empire rudely strikes back at Jamila and Changez's wedding gathering when a member of Anwar's family insults Helen. The generational solutions to racial mixing are displayed in two choices with respect to commitment. Jamila maintains her feminist instincts by preserving herself ideologically—reading all of the leading British and American feminist intellectuals while caving in to the arranged marriage. That is, she refuses to let the marriage change her. Haroon becomes a liberated man in choosing to leave his marriage and live with Eva while responsibly determined to support his family. Karim is uncertain what to do about his mixed loyalties. Although he is impressed by Eva's compelling independence and what she has to offer in terms of intelligence and understanding both to his father and to himself, he worries about his mother, whom he doesn't believe can take care of herself.

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