Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Chapter 17

By Dave Eggers

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Chapter 17

  • Yousef drops Alan off at the work site and promises to make an appointment with a doctor for Alan's bloody neck wound.
  • His young team is happy that the King isn't going to show up soon (they don't want to get caught with their wi-fi down), but they're also bummed. There's absolutely nothing to do.
  • So they play poker and chat.
  • Alan realizes that he really has no connection with these young whippersnappers. They're technologically savvy; he knows about physical manufacturing. It's like two different languages.
  • He feels useless to them, and, what's worse, he knows that they know he feels useless.
  • Alan leaves the tent and makes his way to the pink condos along the seaside. Around the back, he finds a giant pit, a foundation for another building.
  • He walks down into the pit and finds that it's much cooler than the surrounding desert. While in this "grave," Alan thinks of Charlie Fallon.
  • We get more of the Charlie story. Turns out that Alan helped Charlie's wife to move out of their house when she'd had enough of her husband. He never told Charlie about his role in that.
  • But of course, Charlie found out. He had been mad, but eventually forgave Alan.
  • Walking around the foundation of a building fills Alan with great optimism. He thinks that this will be a great memory to have, when KAEC becomes the next Abu Dhabi.
  • He recalls another super optimistic friend of his called Terry, who worked in glass manufacturing near Pittsburgh.
  • Terry's company won the contract to make the glass for the new Freedom Tower in New York City and had been rightfully bragging about it to Alan.
  • But that all came to a crashing end when another company snagged the contract from them—and purchased the glass from China.
  • Terry's devastated: his company kinda brought this on themselves by giving the Chinese firm access to their technology. Oopsies.
  • And once again, the Chinese can do it cheaper—and sell it back to the U.S.
  • The major tragedy? Terry really cared about being part of Freedom Tower. It was a huge emotional investment for him.
  • It stings hard because, hey, it's Ground Zero. If that's not an All-American zone, we don't know what is.
  • Back in the present day, Alan's still walking around the foundation of the new building at KAEC. He's actually pacing like a madman.
  • It's at this moment that he's discovered by workmen, who most definitely do not want him there. It's no place for unbalanced Americans.
  • Alan realizes how awkward the whole situation is, and realizes that on so, so many levels, he shouldn't be there.

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