Study Guide

Kit Clay in A Hologram for the King

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Kit Clay

Collateral Damage

Kit never makes an actual appearance in this work, but she's involved in some of Alan's most painful (and sweetest) memories. She's also the star of all his regrets.

His main goal in Jeddah—other than winning the contract and making a boatload of cash money—is to write meaningful letters to his daughter, explaining everything that he can about his choices in life. He also means to reconcile Kit with her firebrand mother, Ruby.

Unfortunately, Alan's attempts at eloquence usually only happen when he's drunkity drunk drunk. What he writes to her is forthright and heartfelt, as in the following:

And I was gone all the time. I was already on to Taiwan and China. I missed a few years there. I didn't want to be in Taiwan, did I? But everyone else was. I missed a few of your important years there and I regret that. (XXIII.49.201)

It's a confession from a guilt-ridden father who would like to make things better for his daughter. But in the end, it may not be about Kit, after all. Alan's letters to Kit are often anguished, but not on her behalf. He's feeling isolated, guilty, and ineffective as a parent. It's really all about him.

Kit's feelings and needs are unknowable: we only hear "directly" from her once, when she leaves a message for her father saying that she's taken a job at a co-op and she's not returning to college. We don't know how she feels about the fallout from a turbulent childhood or the disappointment of having to leave college—but we do know that she's finding ways to cope.

Looking for Mercy

We do know that Alan's major concern in writing to Kit is to make her mother seem less like a demon in her eyes. This is partly just: Alan knows that he wasn't an ideal husband and probably contributed to Ruby's crazy behavior.

But he's also motivated by self-interest:

He had to repair the damage. Alan didn't want to be the only parent. And he worried—or rather he knew—that if Kit could find her mother unworthy, then using the same tools of reassessment, she would find Alan unacceptable, too. (XI.42.76)

He realizes that as he ages and finds himself alone in the world, he really needs Kit more than she needs him. And that's just scary. Alan doesn't want to find himself alienated from the person he loves the most because he encouraged a dislike for his ex-wife. His sense of guilt motivates this, but it's also a sign that Alan's finally cultivating wisdom. He finally realizes that he's part of a system—and that consequences come with his actions.

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