Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Chapter 2

By Dave Eggers

Chapter 2

  • Alan blows it on his first day on the job in Saudi Arabia by waking up late and missing the shuttle to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). His crew waits for him to arrive.
  • He realizes pretty quickly that getting a ride in Saudi Arabia won't be easy. He can't just rent a car and there are zero taxis.
  • Alan considers the potential snafus of his new environment: being kidnapped, sold to Al-Qaeda, or simply disappearing off the map.
  • But all of these concerns disappear when the front desk rings to say they've found him a driver.
  • Now, he just has to worry about himself. He muses on a big lump growing at the base of his neck. He's 100% sure it's killing him.
  • More than that, he's sure the "tumor" has caused all of his awkwardness and clumsiness. Isn't that convenient?
  • We learn that Alan got this job because he'd once known King Abdullah's nephew. His current boss seems to think this will help them win the contract.
  • Alan's in no position to refuse work. He's been in economic free-fall since the Great Recession ruined his fiscal life.
  • He's also lost his feeling of self-worth (which is closely tied to his ability to pay for stuff). He's wallowing in his sense of middle-aged worthlessness.
  • Alan's career path has been shaky. He moved from one bicycle manufacturing company to another—and then finally to fruitless "self-employment."
  • It's clear that Alan's current position has a lot to do with his own choices and actions. He'd helped his companies become more efficient, outsourcing his own job to cheaper labor markets.
  • But he considers himself an American optimist: Things can and should be manufactured in America!
  • He can't find a good argument for paying more for U.S. labor, but there you go.
  • Alan thinks about the depressing process of putting his house in the U.S. up for sale. He's living a kind of half-life now.
  • And yet: He believes that this contract with King Abdullah will be the beginning of big things for him, and it's practically in the bag. He can't suppress his optimism. Oh noes.
  • The chapter ends with Alan giving himself a pep talk. He's a winner! He can win! He is worthy! He will get that contract!

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