by Zadie Smith
White Teeth Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Samad had looked at him with great sympathy, for he felt very tenderly for Archie. Their wartime friendship had been severed by thirty years and a separation of continents […] In a fit of nostalgia, and because he was the only man Samad knew on this little island, Samad had sought Archie out, moved into the same London borough. (1.56)
Samad has staked quite a lot on his wartime friendship with Archie. They were thrown together in the war, and Samad comes looking for Archie in London after almost thirty years. Do you think their friendship was actually that strong during the war? What's Samad really being nostalgic about when he goes looking for Archie?
"It is a nice area, we have friends here."
"Who are they?" She slammed her little fist on to the kitchen table, sending the salt and pepper flying, to collide spectacularly with each other in the air. "I don't know them! You fight in an old, forgotten war with some Englishman... married to a black! Whose friends are they? These are the people my child will grow up around? Their children—half blacky-white?" (3.109-110)
As Alsana and Samad fight in this scene, Alsana questions the foundations of Archie and Samad's friendship. And, really, she questions what friendship means as a whole (while being pretty racist in the meanwhile). She's on a roll.
Partly because Mrs. Jones becomes pregnant so soon after Mrs. Iqbal and partly because of a daily proximity (by this point Clara is working part-time as a supervisor for a Kilburn youth group that looks like the fifteen-man lineup of a ska and roots band—six-inch Afros, Adidas tracksuits, brown ties, Velcro, sun-tinted shades—and Alsana attends an Asian Women's Prenatal Class in Kilburn High Road round the corner), the two women begin to see more of each other. (4.79)
Clara and Alsana do not particularly like each other, so their friendship might just unseat their husbands' friendship as the most unlikely of all. Why aren't there any simple, "we love all the same movies and all the same books" friendships in this novel?