While reviewing Ralph Waldo Ellison’s story “Battle Royal” and Monica Ali’s story “Dinner with Dr. Azad” it is easy to see that they share many similarities but hold many differences as well. While taking place in different cultures, in different times, both literary pieces focus around the central theme of being trapped and being held down by their “superiors”, also known as marginalization. In one story we learn about a young woman in a minority race who is restricted because of her family’s cultural beliefs and the other we learn of a man who faces the challenges that come with being a minority in a country which recently enslaved his people.
Monica Ali’s “Dinner with Dr. Azad” is a chapter in a larger novel called “Brick Lane”. It follows the story of Nazneen an 18 year old girl born and raised in a small Bangladeshi village. In the story Nazneen moves to a Bangladeshi community within the city of London to marry a man named Chanu in an arranged marriage. Chanu is a Bangladeshi born man who is more than twice Nazneen’s age. This is very difficult for Nazneen as the only English she speaks is “I’m sorry” and “thank you”. Throughout the story she finds herself lost in a new world with many new people and strange things around her.
“Dinner with Dr. Azad” moves around several main themes, one being freedom. Nazneen questions whether she can actually control her own life. She starts to slowly break free, first with small subtle acts of rebellion and eventually an affair. Finally, with the interests of her children in mind, she takes a giant step toward becoming her own woman.
The story picks up with Nazneen on Brick Lane taking what seems to be a daily routine of a walk. Nazneen points out a few difficulties she faces in her new community. Her first problem is her inability to speak English. Every day she passes the woman working at the tattoo shop and waves hello but is upset that she cannot take it to a conversation. She feels the pain of how the...