Moth Smoke Summary & Study Guide

Mohsin Hamid
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Moth Smoke Summary & Study Guide Description

Moth Smoke 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 Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Hamid, Mohsin. Moth Smoke. Riverhead Books, 2012. First trade paperback edition.

This non-linear narrative begins when a prison guard hands a letter to a prisoner. The scene switches: a judge presides over a courtroom. The defendant, Darashikoh Shezad, stands accused of killing a child.

The scene again changes. The main narrator Darashikoh visits his childhood friend Aurangzeb, living with his wife and child. They spend the evening drinking and catching up after Aurangzeb’s three-year absence in America. On the drive home, police stop Darashikoh. They notice that he has been drinking, but Darashikoh escapes punishment by giving a bribe to one of the policemen. The next day, Darashikoh is fired from his job in finance.

Darashikoh purchases marijuana from his friend Murad Badshah. Later, Mumtaz asks Darashikoh to accompany her on an errand; he agrees. Mumtaz tells Darashikoh about her secret career as a journalist using the pseudonym Zulfikar Manto. They arrive at Mumtaz’s intended destination: a brothel where Mumtaz interviews the madam.

As narrator, Murad Badshah introduces himself as a well-educated rickshaw captain. He admits to having engaged in criminal activity with Darashikoh.

The narrative then continues linearly where it left off after Darashikoh’s visit to the brothel. The next day, Darashikoh finds his electricity out. He visits Khurram Shah who offers Darashikoh help in locating employment. After their meeting, Darashikoh finds Aurangzeb upstairs. He was not invited to the party currently occurring.

Aurangzeb informs Darashikoh about a nuclear test that occurred near the border. He also admits to having marital problems. Darashikoh feels their friendship deteriorating. Another day, Darashikoh is driving home when he sees Aurangzeb also driving. Darashikoh watches as his friend’s car collides with the body of a boy crossing the road; Aurangzeb fails to obey the red light. Aurangzeb continues driving, fleeing the scene. Darashikoh takes the injured boy to the hospital. The next day, more nuclear tests occur.

The scene again switches: the judge (from the courtroom in the second chapter) inquires about the role of air-conditioning in the trial. A paper by Julius Superb is discussed, concerning the relationship between air-conditioning and class status. When Darashikoh lost the funds to afford air-conditioning, the report claims that he suffered mentally.

Mumtaz visits Darashikoh at home and finds him without electricity. She asks him to teach her how to box. Later, Darashikoh hears celebratory noises from outside. Lahore has successfully tested their bomb. The next day, Mumtaz takes Darashikoh to see a palm reader who refuses to explain what she examines to Darashikoh, only noting that she has “bad news” for him (137).

Darashikoh purchases a large quality of hash from Murad (to sell to a friend) who also hands him some heroin, suggesting that Darashikoh offer it to his buyers. Darashikoh delivers the hash to a friend; they agree to do the exchange again. At home, Darashikoh finds his servant Manucci staring at a moth circling a candle’s flame. They watch the moth touch the flame and burn alive. A few days later, Darashikoh sits on his roof with Aurangzeb who inquires if Darashikoh told anyone about the boy he killed. Darashikoh assures his friend of his secrecy.

Darashikoh buys more hash from Murad and sells it at inflated prices. He then truly begins a romantic affair with Mumtaz after they have sex.

As narrator, Mumtaz describes her past with Aurangzeb: how they met in NYC, married, and then had a child. She gradually lost respect for her husband after moving back to Lahore but enjoyed secretly working as a journalist. She also admits to the affair with Darashikoh.

Darashikoh sells hash to a teenage boy named Shuja. At home, Darashikoh tries the heroin that Murad gave him. After she learns this, Mumtaz urges him not to use the drug again. Darashikoh continues selling hash but does not pay his servant with whom he argues much.

One day, Darashikoh attends a gathering of former classmates where another man demeans Darashikoh for selling drugs; they fight. Later, Manucci witnesses Darashikoh sell some hash to Shuja and afterwards asks his employer to stop selling drugs. Darashikoh slaps him, and Manucci leaves Darashikoh’s employment.

Shuja again contacts Darashikoh. Darashikoh drives to Shuja’s family’s house to deliver the hash where Shuja’s father has him beaten by his personal guards. Darashikoh lies to everyone when asked how he was injured.

As narrator, Aurangzeb admits to having corrupt practices, but justifies this behavior based on the complete corruption of the entire country. He also details his relationship with Darashikoh, which started as children. Aurangzeb argues that Darashikoh has always been jealous of him despite Khurram Shah’s help with Darashikoh’s education and career. Aurangzeb claims that he is not sorry to learn that Darashikoh “killed the boy” (212).

Mumtaz cares for Darashikoh everyday after his “accident,” feeding him and providing comfort. One day, a monsoon hits Lahore, and Darashikoh (high on heroin) sits outside as the dust blows around him. After realizing his feelings for her, Mumtaz warns Darashikoh not to think of their relationship as a courtship, and an upset Darashikoh admits to having used heroin again.

The next time that Darashikoh visits with Murad, they agree to rob boutiques together. Darashikoh asks for more heroin, but his friend tells him not to use the drug; Darashikoh later buys some on the streets of Lahore. He and Murad begin preparing for their first robbery. He practices shooting a gun and smokes heroin regularly. One day, Mumtaz tells Darashikoh that their affair is over. He blames Muazzam for why Mumtaz will not leave Aurangzeb. On the day of the first scheduled robbery, Murad and Darashikoh drive to the target boutique. Inside, Darashikoh holds a gun to the guard’s head, and Murad collects cash and valuables from the customers and salespeople. When a boy goes running towards the front door, Darashikoh fires his gun.

The setting switches: the prosecutor argues for a guilty verdict, urging the judge to ignore Darashikoh’s claims that he was framed.

The day after the boutique robbery, the police arrest Darashikoh for killing a boy in an auto-accident. Shortly afterwards, Mumtaz finally leaves Aurangzeb. Working as Manto, she gathers information on the case and writes a story detailing what she imagines to be Darashikoh’s side of the story.

From his cell, Darashikoh reads Manto’s story.

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