Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Identity

By Dave Eggers

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Alan Clay has reached a crossroads in his life: he's middle-aged, out of a job, and scraping the bottom of the barrel financially. Basically, he's ripe for an identity crisis—and boy does he get a good one. The failures in his professional life challenge his sense of value to the world and make him question his purpose on Earth.

His lackluster personal relationships force him to face up to his flaws as a friend, husband, and father throughout A Hologram For the King. In his letters to Kit, Alan comes face-to-face with the person he has become almost without his knowing it. In short, he's not who or what he wants to be.

The million-dollar question: Can Alan re-create himself and still become the hero of his own life?

Questions About Identity

  1. How does Alan's professional life affect his perception of himself?
  2. In what way does the global economic situation change Alan's position in society?
  3. How does Alan see himself in relation to the world around him? In relation to his family?
  4. Why does Alan feel that this "gig" in Saudi Arabia is so crucial for him? Think outside the financial box on this one.

Chew on This

Alan's sense of masculinity is compromised by his professional failures.

Alan can't return to the U.S. because there's no longer any place for people like him to compete in the workplace.

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