Zadie Smith - White Teeth and Multiculturalism

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GRIN Verlag, Sep 30, 2007 - 32 pages
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Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3, University of London (English Department), course: Contemporary London in Literature, language: English, abstract: Zadie Smith, having a Jamaican mother and an English father, just wanted to write a funny book in which not everybody is white, she did not think much about multiculturalism in London because it is nothing to talk about, it is normal. However, the book became one of the best novels dealing with multiculturalism. A multicultural society consists of two or more different cultures which are different in language, religion, traditions and their systems of values. Britain and especially London became multicultural mainly by immigrants who left their countries mostly for political, demographic or economical reasons in the search for freedom and a better standard of living. Some so-called push- factors are political suppression, bad working conditions or natural disasters. Pull- factors are religious and political freedom and better jobs and chances to learn some money, for example. Britain itself encouraged people from overpopulated and underemployed Commonwealth countries to immigrate because it needed cheap workers to staff the semi-skilled and non-skilled vacancies and to rebuild the war-shattered economy. Most of the immigrants worked in the National Health Service, public transport or in the manufacturing service. Many of them got only low-paid manual jobs and became victims of discriminatory practices. These immigrants started the transformation of Britain and especially of London into a multicultural society. White Teeth is the story of three families from three different cultural backgrounds, the English-Jamaican Jones, the Bangladeshi Iqbals and the Jewish Chalfens, told mainly between 1974 and 1992, set in Willesden, a multicultural suburb in North London, where Zadie Smith herself lives. The novel is told in the tones and structures of
 

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