by Zadie Smith
White Teeth Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- How have Archie and Samad remained friends despite their many differences? What all do they have in common? How well do you think they really understand each other?
- How many different kinds of speech can you identify in Smith's prose? Which characters use which dialects? When? Why?
- How do the different generations in White Teeth experience race and ethnicity? What seems to have changed over time, and what seems to have stayed the same?
- Why does Archie always flip a coin when he is trying to make a tough decision? How might we reconcile the randomness of a coin flip with a serious situation?
- Archie's and Samad's families often complain about how obsessed they are with the past. What happened during the war that Archie and Samad can't let go of?
- What relationship do Irie, Magid, and Millat have to their own pasts? Their families' pasts? To history more broadly?
- What do Irie, Magid, and Millat find so appealing about Englishness? How do they attempt to present themselves as "more English"? How do Archie and Clara and Samad and Alsana react to this? What are their fears?
- How does the FutureMouse bring characters, families, and factions together? What systems of belief or ideas about the world collide here? What is the outcome? Does anything get resolved?
- Why do you think Smith made the decision that Irie would never be able to identify the father of her child?
- Which characters are religious fanatics or fundamentalists in White Teeth? Why do you think they approach religion this way? And how do the characters' approaches differ across religions?
- Which characters are completely irreligoius in the book? What does their lack of faith tell us about them? What do they believe in instead?
- What commonalities emerge across the moments in the book where teeth come up? How do teeth, and especially white teeth, relate to the major themes of the novel?
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...