Scene 4 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on February 17, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 926

Scene 4

Six months later, Amir is moving out of the apartment. All but one of Emily’s paintings are gone, as is most of the furniture, and there are boxes everywhere. As he packs up his possessions, Amir is quiet and seems chastened.

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Emily enters with Abe, who is wearing a skullcap and clothes with muted, traditional colors, a marked contrast to his appearance in scene 1. Emily tells Amir that Abe has been questioned by the FBI. Abe says he was sitting in Starbucks with his friend Tariq when they started talking to a barista, who asked them how they felt about Al-Qaeda. Tariq said that Al-Qaeda was created by the CIA, which angered the barista. She called the police, who took Abe and Tariq to the precinct, where they were questioned by the FBI about their beliefs and religious practices. The FBI then brought up the topic of Abe’s immigration status, which is up for renewal. Having heard Abe tell his story, Emily goes to the kitchen to get some water, leaving the two of them to talk.

Amir calls Ken, the lawyer who handled Imam Fareed’s case, and leaves a message, asking him to return the call urgently. He then cautions Abe against giving the FBI any pretext for harassment. Abe asks what Amir would do if the FBI asked him to spy for them, which is what he believes the agents wanted. Amir is equivocal, telling Abe that he will be deported if he takes a hard line against the authorities. Abe replies that this might not be a bad thing, that perhaps he should never have left Pakistan, since he does not belong in America, and neither does Amir.

When Amir talks about having a better life in America, Abe explodes with fury. He says that he knows Amir has been fired from his job, and he also knows what he did to Emily. Amir has forgotten who he is, Abe tells him. He always turns against his own people, trying to fit in with American society, but American society despises him and recognizes his self-hatred. Muhammad did not conquer the world by copying people. He made them copy him instead. Now America has conquered the world, and it is up to Muslims to take it back.

As Abe berates Amir, Emily returns from the kitchen and listens, but neither of them notices her. Abe says that for three hundred years, Americans have been mistreating Muslims, and that Muslim acquiescence in this process has disgraced them. He then sees Emily, realizes that she has heard him, and apologizes. As he leaves, he says that he will handle matters himself.

Amir and Emily are alone together, standing in silence. They begin to talk, awkwardly. Amir says that he wanted Emily to have the apartment, but Emily replies that it does not belong to her. She has dropped the charges she brought against Amir and says that she does not hate him. He tells her that he has read her reviews in the papers and is proud of her success as an artist. Emily, however, now believes that her work was naïve and says that she was partly responsible for what happened between them. Amir says that he wants Emily to be proud of him and proud that they were together, but Emily only says goodbye and asks him not to write to her any more. These are the last words spoken, as Emily walks out of the apartment. Left alone, Amir picks up Emily’s painting from the floor and examines it thoughtfully.

Analysis

After the explosive violence with which scene 3 ended, the play’s final scene has a muted quality, which is only emphasized by Abe’s anger. It takes two to fight, and Amir is no longer willing or able to match the fury of his nephew, who regards him as a disgrace to his culture and religion. Every other character in the play has acted as a foil for Amir, but it is Abe in this scene who most strikingly opposes him in every way. Amir is ashamed of the trace of tribal loyalty he has felt for Islam, only revealing it under pressure and when intoxicated. Abe embraces his roots and want to see Islam as the greatest political power in the world. At the beginning of the play, Amir would have reprimanded him for his extremism, but at this point, he has lost the authority and the strength to do so.

While Emily has acted as a foil for Amir throughout the play, in this final scene they are oddly alike in their estrangement. Emily’s love of Islam may have been primarily aesthetic, but this was because her art provided the prism through which she saw the world. Islamic art was the closest thing she had to a religion, and now she feels that she has been a kind of false prophet, an evangelist for something she did not understand. This brings her closer to an understanding of Amir, even as they are separated, since Amir’s principal problem was not his disdain for Islam but his lack of any positive philosophy against which to measure it. The play ends on a note of bleak nihilism, though the audience may find some hope in Amir’s last, searching look at Emily’s painting. It is possible that, after all the tumult of the previous year, he now sees something in it which he did not before and which the artist herself no longer sees.

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