Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Chapter 26

By Dave Eggers

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Chapter 26

  • Yousef tells Alan that he's going to leave town for a bit, until the crazy husband chills out.
  • Three of the dude's henchmen showed up at Yousef's house to intimidate him. It worked.
  • Yousef will go up to his father's mansion in the mountains to make his stand, since all of the villagers will help him out if he needs it.
  • Alan doesn't want to say goodbye to Yousef, because he's worried it'll be the last time he sees him. So he packs his bags and joins Yousef on the journey.
  • They first stop at Yousef's dad's shoe shop in the Old City to get permission to use the house. Yousef is doubtful about this, since he's not exactly Dad's favorite.
  • But dad agrees to Yousef's plan. Yousef insists that Alan take a pair of sandals for himself from the shop.
  • Yousef explains to Alan that Dad doesn't like him being in college—he'd rather have his son working alongside him in the shop.
  • Alan's in an awkward position. As a dad who's made mistakes, he feels like he has to defend all parents—or at least make peace between 'rents and kids.
  • Alan tries to praise Yousef's dad by saying that making shoes is an art. But Yousef tells him that dad doesn't actually make them. More outsourcing: they're made in Yemen.
  • They pick up Yousef's friend Salem on the way. He's a hippie who works in marketing at an American company. Hmm.
  • Salem talks about a slave who's been living in his apartment building. He'd just figured out that the man was a slave—and now Salem wants to move.
  • Salem reveals to Alan that there's a lot of depression and suicide in Saudi Arabia. No opportunities = no desire to keep on living.
  • We learn that Salem is a musician, filmmaker, and poet. A real Renaissance dude. But Saudi Arabia is so restrictive that he can't perform openly.
  • When they stop at a grocery store, Salem and Alan are approached by a little girl in a burqa. Alan wants to help her, but Salem locks the car doors and rolls up the window.
  • They see other pilgrims stocking up on supplies to provision a religious journey called Umrah.
  • Alan and crew continue toward the mountains. They approach a split in the highway: one side for Muslims, the other for non-Muslims.
  • Yousef is all like "To heck with it! Let's take the Muslim side!" Salem thinks he's insane. They've got Alan in the car.
  • Yousef says that he's just joking and cuts a sharp lane-change to head up the non-Muslim road.
  • When they finally reach the house, Alan's impressed. It's huge.
  • It turns out that Yousef didn't explain to dad that Alan was coming. He wouldn't have agreed to it if he'd known.
  • The house appeals to Alan's sense of grandeur: a mountain had to be leveled in order for it to be built.
  • It's also hard for him to believe that Yousef's Grinch of a dad could be so generous with his money to have built such a thing.
  • Yousef shows off his father's gun horde. Alan loves this, since he used to be a pretty good shot.
  • He fantasizes about needing one of the rifles to protect Yousef from the crazy husband and his henchmen. He wants to be a hero in the worst way.
  • Alan can't sleep that night. He decides to compose another letter to Kit on the back of a discarded envelope. This time, he talks about his adventures with Yousef.
  • He also tells Kit about Yousef's dad, and the vision he must have had to level an entire mountaintop to build such a house.
  • Alan makes his way to the roof to take in the view—and realizes that he could live there. For real. He wants to build something great and lasting, just like Yousef's dad.
  • But he doesn't know how to get back to his roots. What are his origins, really? Where is his village? Alan seems to lack a solid identity of his own.
  • He recalls living in Duxbury, Massachusetts. He'd tried to build a garden wall out of stone with his own hands.
  • Alan had succeeded—and had been proud of the work. That is, until the zoning department told him to tear it down.
  • In the end, he had to pay men to destroy his wall (they destroyed his garden, too, in the process). So much for the work of his hands.

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