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Analysis

Literary Devices in White Teeth

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

You know what's cooler than London? London during a bunch of different time periods, and then a whole bunch of other countries to spice up our reading experience. White Teeth is full of flashbacks...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator in White Teeth is nameless, but that doesn't stop this narrator from knowing absolutely everything about absolutely everyone. And with all that dirt on the Iqbals and the Joneses, the...

Genre

Coming-of-age stories aren't just stories where older relatives pinch cheeks and say, "My, my, you are growing up so fast." Shmoopsters, can you imagine what Millat would do if someone pinched his...

Tone

You totally want to be friends with the narrator of this novel, right? The narrator is witty and often cynical, but can also be really funny (that's the idiosyncratic part). We're thinking a Joseph...

Writing Style

We're kidding, Shmoopters. That's what we're here for. White Teeth tells a complex story, and the writing style is diverse enough to match the story. Have you ever seen the Toyko subway map? Well,...

What's Up With the Title?

All teeth are white, and everyone is the same when it comes to teeth—we all have 'em. Meanwhile, White Teeth is populated by characters from different races and ethnicities and of different ages,...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"What's past is prologue" (The Tempest, Act II, scene i)The characters in this novel are obsessed with the past. Ob. Sessed. Even Irie, who is often annoyed with Archie and Samad for talking endles...

What's Up With the Ending?

The very end of White Teeth is really more a continuation of the story. Or, if we think back to the epigraph, it's a prologue for the future. This story doesn't so much end as it does stop. The ver...

Tough-o-Meter

There's a whole lot going on in this here book, friends. One minute you're in 1974, then it's 1945, and then 1984, or 1857, or 1990, and then 1907… Phew. Certain stories are revisited several tim...

Plot Analysis

The Odd Couple(s)The original strange pair in White Teeth is Archie and Samad. They began with the kind of friendship that can only develop when two people think they'll never see each other again....

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

We love Booker's Seven Basic Plots. We really do. So we sat down with White Teeth and tried and tried and tried to squeeze this fatty book into one of those plot types. But White Teeth was not havi...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Archie and Samad begin their unlikely friendship during WWII. They develop their connection back in London, where they marry much younger women and live in houses close to one another. They also ha...

Trivia

Zadie Smith wrote a negative review of her own novel.Zadie Smith grew up in Willesden Green in London (sound familiar?) with a Jamaican mother and an English father (not to repeat ourselves, but so...

Steaminess Rating

There's actually not much in the way of explicit sex in this novel. But the characters use very adult language to talk about sex and sexual acts (and just about everything else). Language is part o...
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