Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Plot Analysis

By Dave Eggers

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

The Journey of His Life (No Pressure)

Alan finds himself at the lowest point in his life.

He heads out to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as part of team from Boston-based IT firm Reliant, hoping to nab a massive contract for work at King Abdullah Economic City. We learn about Alan's decade-long decline on both personal and professional fronts, and just what's at stake for him on this business trip—pretty much everything, including his daughter's immediate fate.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Does It Feel Doomed In Here?

There are little signs everywhere (and big ones, too) that things are not as Alan and Reliant thought they might be at KAEC. First, his new friend Yousef thinks he's nuts for feeling optimistic about the desert in the city. There hasn't been any investment or development there in a really long time.

Once Alan arrives and hooks up with his crew, he finds that they've been relegated to a tent outside the Welcome Center. Things continue to fall apart: a terrible wi-fi signal, failing air conditioner (in the middle of the Saudi desert, no less), no access to food, and no liaison to address their concerns.

Alan's determined to be optimistic, but all of this triggers memories of his past failures.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Kill the Wabbit (Except Here, It's A Wolf)

It feels odd that the climax of this story isn't the arrival of King Abdullah, but there you have it. For Alan, everything comes to a head in the forests above Yousef's ancestral village. He's been invited along on a hunt and hopes to be the one who takes out the rogue wolf that's been worrying local sheep.

But it's more than that: he feels like he has to be the one who kills the wolf. Alan has failed so hard at so much in his life he really needs this victory.

Unfortunately, his desperation makes him a little trigger-happy…and he nearly kills a shepherd boy. Yousef's neighbors don't take this kindly and he has to be whisked back to Jeddah. At this point, it's likely that Alan has lost the trust of the only friend he's had in a long time.

Did we mention that Abdullah still hasn't shown his face?

Falling Action

Just A Lot of "Meh"

When Alan gets back to Jeddah after the wolf debacle, Dr. Hakem operates on a cyst on Alan's neck. In a weird (and moderately inappropriate) twist of fate, they begin flirting and try for a little romance.

But Alan's still ultimately feeling dead inside despite his intense attraction to Zahra and he's not able to, um, perform with her.

Resolution (Denouement)

Here Comes the King! Yay?

After Alan's failure with Zahra Hakem, it's pretty much all downhill. In the most anti-climactic final chapter we've probably ever read, King Abdullah arrives, politely claps at Reliant's brilliant holographic display—and promptly awards the contract to a Chinese company.

Alan's left in a lurch and is quite literally stuck in KAEC until he can find a way to make a success of the trip.