Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Defeat

By Dave Eggers

Defeat

There's so much at stake for Alan in A Hologram For the King.

He has exactly one shot to save himself from financial ruin and prove that he's not the worst dad of the year. Also at stake? His self-worth and future relevance in the global workplace. No pressure or anything.

After his failure to read or influence King Abdullah, Alan's characteristic protective optimism kicks in. He makes plans to stay at KAEC in the hopes of winning something (anything!) for Reliant. In reality, we know he has to stay at KAEC. He has no home to return to, no money, and no job.

Even worse, he's no closer to redeeming his lost sense of self and his emotional connection to, well, anything. Eggers has managed to create an ending that his main character—to say nothing of his audience!—might never recover from.

Questions About Defeat

  1. In what ways does Alan's optimism help him in the face of failure? How does it sometimes make things worse?
  2. What does Hanne mean when she tells Alan that there's "no light" in his mind?
  3. Why is it important for Alan to believe that the lump on his neck is malignant?
  4. How much do external forces play into Alan's personal failures? How much responsibility is on him?

Chew on This

Alan's not only responsible for his own failures in life—he's also responsible for helping to create large-scale disasters in the world around him.

Alan's optimism is the major cause of the misadventures of his life.