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White Teeth
White Teeth
by Zadie Smith

White Teeth Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Friendship

It often feels as if there is no such thing as a new friend in White Teeth. Friendships come with history, lots of history. You know that vague answer to the how-do-you-know-each-other question: "O...

Appearances

Has anyone ever told you that appearances don't matter? Well, you'll have to forget that for now. In a novel where characters are searching for identities they can believe in, appearances are, like...

Identity

Identity is the theme that just won't quit in White Teeth. The novel explores issues of identity through characters' ethnicities, the way they speak, their socioeconomic class, and more. Seriously,...

Race and Ethnicity

This theme is like the elephant in the room of White Teeth. And this elephant is wearing a pink tutu and dancing an Irish jig. The novel isn't exactly about race and ethnicity, or what it means to...

Society and Class

England is known for its class structure. Downton Abbey, anyone? The Iqbals and the Joneses are working-class families. Some of these characters seem content with that, and others seem to want more...

Tradition

Samad Iqbal is obsessed with tradition. He fights with his wife about it, he lectures his best friend about it, and he makes his children crazy with it. The man is wild for tradition. But, Samad do...

Religion

In White Teeth, we've got believers and non-believers all in the same place at the same time. Basically, like everything else in this novel, religion is complicated but it is never dull. Not for a...

History and the Past

If you don't like flashbacks, have a spoon full of sugar ready to make 'em go down easy when you read White Teeth—they sure are plentiful. The way that we understand the past (and the way that th...

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