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Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the past affects the present.

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Sarah Lister 13KW Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the past affects the present. The novels 'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith and 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison both explore many different issues. However, a principle theme that appears to be common in both is the way in which the past influences the present profoundly and both authors use the narrative structures of the books to present this idea to the reader. The exploration of the relationships between characters through time, the past haunting the present and the way in which history and culture is revealed through the past are important devices used to show the emotions and further the plot. Each author does this in a very different way though and this is the power of the narrative structure and the way in which it can be used in a variety of different manners in order to achieve a similar effect. The narrative structure of 'White Teeth' is very logical. The novel is divided decisively into sections in order to present the reader with the emotions and views of the main characters. ...read more.


These aspects of their lives in the novel are relevant to both their past and their present. The relationship that Archie forms with Samad in the war appears to be based on the fact that Archie killed the Nazi scientist. Their relationship is one of opposites with Samad's philosophical, pensive attitude, 'Our children will be born of our actions. Our actions will become their destinies.' placed in direct comparison with Archie's indecisive nature and his 'tossing the coin' in order to make important decisions. These aspects of their characters and oppositions in their relationship are reflected throughout time. Whilst the rest of the world is changing, the relationship between Samad and Archie remains constant. They continue to visit 'O'Connell's', where 'It is necessary to earn one's position in the community', the interior and their relationship never changes and this symbolizes how there are elements of the past which do not effect the present, they simply the remain the same. This is an important literary device used by Smith, which shows the importance of time with the past and present. The use of this constant whilst Irie, Millat and Magid grow up and culture around them changes is used as a reminder of the way that the relationship between Archie and Samad is never changing. ...read more.


The fear and haunting of religion is also echoed in the culture of Samad where he constantly worries about his judgment day and whether he has disobeyed the laws of Allah. The chapter 'The temptation of Samad Iqbal' discusses the fear that Samad lives with and consequently his conclusion that it is the fault of Western culture, 'I GIVE YOU A GLORIOUS NAME LIKE MAHFOOZ MURSHED MUBTASIM IQBAL...AND YOU WANT TO BE CALLED MARK SMITH!' hence why he sends one of his sons back to Bangladesh. Samad's obsession with his own culture and the legacy of his great-great grandfather consumes him and presents to the reader the negative influence of the past on the present. Samad constantly criticizes the society in which he lives and the way in which the West corrupts what is left of his culture. He idolizes the image of his great-great grandfather and in fact forms him into a hero that he was not and the language, which Samad uses reflects this: '...it would be a dishonour, it would cast into ignominy the memory of Mangal Pande to have him placed here in this-this irreligious house of shame!' This narrative device of Samad's idolizing language towards his own culture and family is an important way of presenting the importance of his culture and elements of the past. ...read more.

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