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White Teeth

White Teeth

by Zadie Smith

Analysis: Three-Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

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 have kids at the same time. And you know how people love bonding over their kids. Is it still called Facebook these days, or are they calling that thing Babybook now?

Act II

Archie's daughter, Irie, is half-English and half-Jamaican. Samad's sons, Millat and Magid, are Bangladeshi. The three struggle with how to define themselves racially and religiously in white-dominant England. They also feel trapped by their parents' desperate desires for their futures. All of these stressors drive Irie, Millat, and Magid to make extreme lifestyle choices.

Act III

Marcus Chalfen's FutureMouse project brings together all kinds of people, including three generations of families, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslim fundamentalists, atheists, and animal rights activists. Not to mention the past and the present—and maybe even the future. Confrontation is inevitable.

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