White Teeth Essay

Smith describes the immense tragedy of immigration, which includes a loss of stability and status and the struggle to assimilate in a new culture without losing one’s native identity.

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A Post Colonial Essay on the Novel White Teeth by Zadie Smith ‘These texts are a celebration of the collapsing of boundaries.’ Explore ways that your chosen texts support this statement.

Boundaries within society are like, “The clouds on the map” where they “would move, reform, disappear, and “new distinct areas would form.” [1] The “clouds” we would see as a cultural identity, sets us in a situation where we become distant.

She had transformed into someone who “looked beautiful. Through the narratives language, the “borders” (Smith, 328) suggest that she is set into a boundary where she is “sneaking into England.” (Smith, 328) Her being an English/Jamaican race should not allow her to feel “like a Jew munching a sausage,” (Smith, 328) nor should she feel “like some terribly mutinous act,” (Smith, 328) as she is originally part-English through blood.

However, through society during Multiculturalism she would be seen as “wearing somebody else’s uniform or somebody else’s skin” (Smith, 328), as she would be associated to the Jamaican group of Immigrants, not the British of “Englishman.” (Smith, 5) Thus, the structure of the book, through the beginning and middle of Irie’s story makes us believe, that she has not broken any boundary even with trying.

Thus, any person who is not from Pakistan cannot call a Pakistani a “Paki,” just like a white person cannot call a black person “nigger … only a Black can call another Black a nigga.” [12] The word Desi refers to people from South Asia and their cultures, thus the transition from Paki to Desi. The use of words such as “kutta” (Malkani, 3) and phrases such as “ki dekh da payeh” (Malkani, 4) firstly shows that they have a split language within themselves by using Panjabi and English.

Thus, referring back to Holbourne’s experience of where “people tried to apply labels to me” Jas also refers to this hence the name change to Desi because they went through a name transition of “rudeboys … Although for us readers, we read something we don’t understand which sets barriers where we cannot enter. London, Harper Perennial, 2007 Evaristo, Bernardine.

According to critic Mark Rozzo, other immigration/race issues in the novel are the “nationalist fear of miscegenation,” or race mixing, and tolerance.

Surprisingly, the leading white character, Archie Jones, displays exceptional tolerance of diversity: His wife, Clara, is biracial and his best friend, Samad Iqbal, is Bangladeshi.

This is when the boundary of race and nationality would be seen as broken by either referring back to the roots within a family, or living up a nationality you are familiar and have been with throughout life.

White Teeth being a novel, allows us to witness a beginning, middle and end to the story, which is split into 4 sections and can relate to the race and nationality the characters within the novel.

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