Essay on Zadie Smith's White Teeth

1007 Words 5 Pages
Zadie Smith's White Teeth

Zadie Smith’s novel, White Teeth, is chock full of potential deconstruction ideas; however, an exciting scene to deconstruct is in “The Final Space” chapter when the Iqbals and the Jones are on the public bus heading towards the FutureMouse exhibit. The most obvious binary opposite is that of parent or adult and child. Adults are without doubt the privileged binary. They signify knowledge, wisdom, teaching, and training of young ones along with patience and selflessness, and are allowed to use bad words without penalty. They have all the answers. Children signify selfishness, constant bickering, needing to be taught to not interrupt, to share, to play nicely with others, and are always contrary. In
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She explains that one of the theories is so that people can’t cheat the bus companies by paying “less than they should for their journey” (426). While these binaries generally hold when children are younger, as children get older they see their parents in a different light. Parents become less knowledgeable and are seen more as people with faults who make mistakes. Kids begin to separate from their parents, and yet still want to hold on to the illusion that adults are more knowledgeable. Ultimately, their relationship to adults transforms into more of a relationship with adults. This is perfectly captured in the continued conversation between Archie and Irie. “Now, I never thought of that,” says Archie, in reply to this new revelation coming from his daughter. They become less parent and child, less a reversal of those roles and more like two people having a normal discussion. Staying with Irie, since she’s such a fascinating character, through Feminist Mimetic Criticism in the chapter entitled “The Miseducation of Irie Jones” we see Irie falling into the age-old traps of unrequited love, being overweight and low-self esteem. The concept of a perfect figure solving the problems of low-self esteem and unrequited love is flawed. Smith has labeled the chapter using the term “miseducation” to remind us that Irie’s thinking is skewed because it is based on male concepts of beauty and the female form, not on
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