White Teeth Essay

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Contrastingly, Zadie Smith’s novel ‘White Teeth’; set during a time in which different ethnicities and cultures reside and live together, focuses on the character of Samad Iqbal as a failed war hero and Muslim, obsessed with tradition and controlling every little detail of his family’s lives. He is shown to have conflicting personal beliefs and attitudes as he is unable to make his own sacrifices for the sake of his religion however expects his family members to be able to understand the so-called importance of having ‘culture’ and following ‘traditions’. This is shown when Samad comforts himself by repeating ‘can’t say fairer than that’ and ‘to the pure all things are pure’ when committing a sin despite being fully aware of the religions strict condemnation of masturbation and the consummation of alcohol. The constant repetition of the above quotes demonstrates to the reader the delusional state of mind Samad possess – he repeats these phrases to himself almost religiously which creates a sense of irony as it can be said that Samad is more dedicated to sinning despite publically (to family and friends) upholding an obsession with traditional and respectable religious values. In addition, Samad’s verbal attack of his wife Alsana for her ‘westernised’ and in Samad’s eyes ‘unholy’ and ‘immoral’ family is used by Smith to effectively demonstrate how Samad imagines tradition to be unchanging and timeless which is somewhat missing the whole point of the focus of tradition (as it is used most widely as a tool for bringing related communities closer together) – ‘Well, take Alsana’s sisters/ they won’t go to mosque/no respect for tradition!’ - Here, it is evident how Samad obsessively believes in the power and influence of tradition and

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