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Disgraced Summary & Study Guide

Ayad Akhtar
This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Disgraced.
This section contains 586 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Disgraced Summary & Study Guide Description

Disgraced Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar.

This play, set in New York City circa 2011/12, is the story of an ambitious South Asian lawyer who, over the course of several months and as the result of several personal confrontations, is faced with several unsettling truths about himself, his situation, and his perspectives. The play asks challenging questions about the nature and purpose of faith, about relationships between white and non-white races in contemporary America, and about the process and responsibilities of creating art.

The play begins with Amir, a busy thirty-something lawyer in a prestigious New York firm, taking work-related cell-phone calls while being sketched by his Caucasian artist wife Emily. Inspired by a racism-defined encounter with a waiter the night before, Emily sees visual and thematic parallels between Amir and the subject of a centuries-old painting by Spanish artist Diego Velazquez. Amir and Emily’s conversation, and the sketch work, are interrupted by the arrival of Abe, Amir’s hip nephew who has changed his name and style of dress in order to seem more American and/or less of a potential terrorist threat to white Americans. Abe asks Amir to support the case of an Imam (Islamic religious leader) who has been imprisoned without cause. At first Amir refuses, but Emily convinces him he should do so. Later, when a picture appears in a local newspaper of Amir with the Imam, he worries about how he (Amir) will now be perceived at his conservative law firm.

Meanwhile, the similarly ambitious Emily is working towards getting her artwork shown at a prestigious gallery, with the help of Jewish curator Isaac who, one evening some months after the sketching scene takes place, comes to have dinner with Amir and Emily, accompanied by his African-American wife, Jory. Initially friendly conversation soon takes a dark and confrontational turn, as the increasingly drunken Amir (who has just learned that his past is being investigated / questioned by senior members of the law firm) confronts everyone in the room (Emily, Isaac, and Jory) about their beliefs about him and his people.

Eventually, tensions mount to the point where Emily feels she has to calm Amir down. As she takes him out of the room, conversation between Jory and Isaac reveals that Jory has something to tell Amir about his relationship with the rest of the firm. Un-soothed by his conversation with Emily, Amir storms out, followed by Jory who sees an opportunity to tell him what’s going on at work. While they’re gone, conversation between Isaac and Emily reveals that they had an affair while attending an art fair in England a short time before. As they approach each other again, Jory returns, sees them together, and erupts into anger. Amir also returns, having just learned that Jory has been promoted over him. Amir’s drunken, enraged rant triggers physical violence, first between Amir and Isaac and then between Amir and Emily, who is assaulted.

The final scene of the play sees a now conservatively dressed Abe telling Amir that he (Abe) is in trouble with the law because of a racism-fueled confrontation with a young white woman. Even though Amir offers to help him, Abe is still bitter and angry. After he leaves, Amir attempts a reconciliation of sorts with Emily (who came with Abe) but she refuses. After she’s gone, Amir is left alone with a full painted version of the sketch Emily drew earlier … he looks at it / himself closely as the lights fade, and the play ends.

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This section contains 586 words
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