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The Decline of the West

This study guide will help you analyse the short story “The Decline of the West” by Hanif Kureishi. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the short story’s point of view and on the title, while also discussing the structure, characters, setting, language, and themes of the text.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Decline of the West” (2010)
Author: Hanif Kureishi
Genre: Short story

Hanif Kureishi (b. 1954) is an acclaimed English writer. He was born and grew up in England as the son of a Pakistani father and a British mother. The short story was first published in 2010 in Kureishi’s Collected Stories.

Excerpt

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Title

The title of the short story “The Decline of the West” by Hanif Kureishi holds a symbolic meaning. It alludes both to the recession which took place at the beginning of the twenty-first century and also to the deterioration of Western family life.

On a larger scale, the title refers to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. During this time, stock markets dropped, numerous businesses collapsed, and consumer wealth was significantly reduced. As a consequence, many countries entered recession. This led to a decline in economic activity and an increase in unemployment rates worldwide.

Ending

In the falling action, Mike restores the power and returns to the house. A tension point is created when Mike tries to stop Tom from playing violent video games. He exclaims “ ‘The world’s a filthy rough place run by jackals and murderers. You need to be prepared, if such a thing is possible’ ”. A parallel can be drawn with the conversation Mike had with his father. Mike’s father considered him lucky for living in the twenty-first century, because he did not experience wars and murder. However, Mike paints a grim picture of the twenty-first century to his son.

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The Decline of the West

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