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Symbolism within White Teeth

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Taylor Newman

on 14 November 2012

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Transcript of Symbolism within White Teeth

-An exploration of symbolism throughout the text of White Teeth: hidden or unhidden Symbolism Within White Teeth Teeth/ Roots Symbolism: -teeth are used as a symbol of something with roots, like family and history. Clara and her missing teeth -Teeth are easy to lose, so this symbolizes the loses/sudden changes that Clara goes through Irie as a dentist Chance vs. Force/ Nature vs. Nurture -The difference between chance, or "playing it by ear" so to say and planning every aspect of one's life and future are shown through different happenings in the story. Archie Samad Failures -Failures are not directly stated, rather shown through symbolism Introduction BY: Taylor Newman Conclusion: Fundamentalism Hortense's religion: -Smith's definition: going to the root of the matter -Like family, teeth are easily destructible and broken. Also, they all look different, no one person has the same set of teeth (also like families) -Fundamentalism is symbolized throughout the book to further explore the topic of "family roots" -Archie vs. Samad -How these main topics relate to post-modern British literature at the time and the issue of westernization KEVIN/ FATE Race and Ethnicity Molars -Specifically the lose or rejection of her religion and new found love
-by rejecting her new religion she has lost her roots tied to her family, like the loss of teeth - -Like people, teeth are all different. Nobody has the same set of teeth (like no person has the same history, or roots) -Smith uses teeth to unite people together -People all share a common trait, teeth, where the roots are all tangled, uniting them together.
-ties together all races/ethnicities/cultures -Dentists fix teeth, so Irie as a dentist symbolizes Irie being the voice of reason and "problem solver" to these twisted roots -Irony plays in considering her mother's lack of teeth: also showing her differences from her parents
-While Clara's missing teeth symbolize loss and failure Irie's wish to be a dentist shows her triumphs and success as well Irie's daughter -She symbolizes the mixing of all the cultures
-Jamaican, English, and Bengali O'Connelle's Archie's attempted
suicide -The fact that he could not even succeed at killing himself shows the extreme levels of his failures -The chosen spot to do so also shows his failure -The attempted suicide acts as the most interesting thing he had done to that point Samad's twin separation -his plan fails and symbolizes his failures at trying to force an issue -not only does it fail but completely backfires, which also symbolizes the unpredictable aspect of the modern day world as well as with history (or in this case the making of history) -The owner of the pub is middle eastern yet insists people call him Mickey
-Westernization/ the only way to keep a business -The name is also a mix. O'connelle is a very Irish name yet the owner has no affiliation with Ireland or Irish decent -It is the middle ground of Archie and Samad.
-Symbolizes the peace between the two. Yet it his hidden and away from others, it is a place of union/common ground. -"[she] feels as free as Pinocchio, a puppet clipped of parental strings" (448).
-also symbolizes the coming of a new age, where parent's involvement in a child's race or culture is not as prevalant and the children are allowed to chose for themselves
-Traditions are changed. (She also helps to develop another generation starting with Hortense) -Multi-Cultural Britain is showcased throughout, nearly each bit connecting back to race/ethnicity in some way. But there are specific symbols to represent it as a whole. -Race is not the main concept of the novel however, but only used in natural ways considering the natural racial barrier presented in modern-day Eng. -She uses 3 completely different ethnicities to tie the "roots" together, showing that in the end we all wind up with the same history -When asked "how were you trying to approach multiracial London" Zadie Smith responds:
"I was just trying to approach London"

-realistic interpretation. Uniting the failures
together -The failure of Archie's attempted suicide bringing him (by chance) to Clara -Clara's failed attempt at love and rebellion (the result in her teeth being knocked out) lead her to Archie -This meeting/ marriage a failure within itself in some aspects (married as a plan "b") Do they really love one another? -Archie represents chance and nature, letting whatever is going to happen happen. He also uses a coin to make his decisions (which also represents his failure at not being able to make decisions for himself) but this also shows his carelessness and chance-ridden attitude -Samad represents a need for foundation or to nurture forcefully. His need and want to fit into a Western culture makes his approach forceful and desperate. However, this does not work, and amplifies his failures.
-Alsana also is quite forceful, especially in her views. To get them across she resorts to physical violence and desperate measures -The idea of history and roots connecting one another together -"something happened by accident. That accident was Clara Bowden" -Also, her teeth getting knocked out can represent the unexpected turn that she takes chapter 7 "Samad opened his eyes and saw quite clearly by the bandstand his two sons, their white teeth biting into two waxy apples, waving, smiling...then Poppy resurfaced..."A toothbrush" (152) -Molars are the teeth used to chew and digest food:
-So, when the twins bite into apples it signifies what they're taking in, or digesting, which would be their fathers affair, only this time it will not settle well
-They also help get rid of the food by breaking it down, meaning this moment also signifies getting rid of the problem, the molars ripping it away and breaking it down into the light. In this case, the twins represent the molars -When Poppy hands Samad a toothbrush it signifies the "dirty" action he has been participating in. A toothbrush stands for clean and by giving him this it is also representing how he must clean up his act.
-Also, since teeth symbolize roots, it means that without ending this relationship his teeth will "remain dirty" and his roots will be ruined and disconnected. -Clara is also one that "goes with the flow" and tends not to fight back with fate or history (especially when her roots are untied from her crash) -The two characters are the polar opposites, but both constitute as failures. This shows the importance of a balance in between the two, that the two extremes cannot live on their own and must be brought together for the perfect balance -Hortense also is another forceful character who does not accept anything other than her view; this poses a big problem. -These failures are not meant to make fools out of the characters but rather to tell and teach a story. -They're the unpredictable heroes of the stories, their failures being human and relatable.
-the different actions and symbols Smith uses in the story to show failures help set the characters up for better things to come along. -set definition: a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles -Smith uses fundamentalism to defy one's roots -The characters also are fundamentalists but not in the way they believe themselves to be. -In both of these groups new ideas are brought to the table, and everybody seems to be interested and involved: yet all for different reasons -The groups question other fundamentalists
-in KEVIN, Millat becomes a fundamentalist to defy his father Samad, who is also a fundamentalist in his history's roots- having a set belief in not losing his history or being westernized
-Millat also has ulterior motives as to be the "rebel"
and to not conform. This his is set belief. -In FATE Josh's motives are plain, to be with Jolie as well as to originally defy his overly fundamentalist father. -Jehovah witness -there is no separation between her life and her religion -her main goal is to make others see it in her eyes, and others who do not are wrong (the "root of the matter" -Smith blends concepts together to create the ultimate set of "roots" where everything is interlocking and playing off one another, history being the foundation. -"What is past, is prologue" -"What is past is prologue" -When the women are allowed in it signifies the overall unification of race, class, and gender in London. Even though this is just in the doors of this pub it represents hope.
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