by Zadie Smith
White Teeth Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
She just wanted to, well, kind of, merge with them. She wanted their Englishness. Their Chalfenishness. The purity of it. It didn't occur to her that the Chalfens were, after a fashion, immigrants too (third generation, by way of Germany and Poland, né Chalfenovsky), or that they might be as needy of her as she was of them. To Irie, the Chalfens were more English than the English. (12.110)
For Irie, the appeal of the Chalfens is a one-two punch of social status (Englishness) and class status (they are just so middle class). Yet she totally fails to realize that the inverse might also be true—that the Chalfens might find her just as appealing. This is one of those things that would be good to remember. You know, in life. The grass is always greener and all that.
I AM NOT A WAITER. I HAVE BEEN A STUDENT, A SCIENTIST, A SOLDIER, MY WIFE IS CALLED ALSANA, WE LIVE IN EAST LONDON BUT WE WOULD LIKE TO MOVE NORTH. I AM A MUSLIM BUT ALLAH HAS FORSAKEN ME OR I HAVE FORSAKEN ALLAH, I'M NOT SURE. I HAVE A FRIEND—ARCHIE—AND OTHERS. I AM FORTY-NINE BUT WOMEN STILL TURN IN THE STREET. SOMETIMES. (3.81)
While it's easier to stick with one-to-one equations like Samad = waiter, we miss a whole lot when we view people that way. Samad hasn't always been working class. In fact, how did he go from being a scientist and a student to a waiter?