Brick Lane Characters

Brick Lane Character List

Chanu

He is the husband of Nazneen and is about forty years old at the start of the novel. He is an educated man and works in a state institution but later quits to become a taxi driver. He plans to turn back to Bangladesh with his family. He has good intentions but does not let Nazneen go to English language classes. Chanu is portrayed to be warm-hearted, yet even a gentle man has his limits. His main aim is to return his family to Bangladesh and to give them a more traditional upbringing, but his family do not accept this. At the end of the novel, he turns alone and accepts Nazneen’s propose for divorce.

Karim

Karim is the lover of Nazneen and is a second generation immigrant in London. He has an ill father and in the book it is shown that Karim is interested in political activities. He is elected as the leader of Bengal Tigers. He speaks in English better than in Bengali language and he is attracted to Nazneen. Karim is an important character as he helps Nazneen to discover herself and to help her become integrated into society in England and to finally stand up for herself, especially to her husband Chanu. However, his relationship with Nazneen does not last.

Nazneen

She is the protagonist in the book. She lives in village in Bangladesh until she is 18 and then moves to London where she lives within a Bengali district. She reads and write in her mother tongue however she does not know English though she spends long years in London. Nazneen has a husband (Chanu) and three children. She also has a lover by the name of Karim. Towards the end of the novel she stops her love affair with Karim and divorces from her husband. Nazneen is portrayed as a typical Muslim woman who is oppressed under the patriarchy. Her husband is chosen by her father. She obeys Chanu’s demands without any opposition. She is not an educated woman and this shown to be her weaker side. However, she later discovers herself and makes decision by herself, e.g. by choosing to divorce Chanu.

Hasina

She is the sister of Nazneen and is not an obedient person like other women in the Bengali society. However, she is subjected to serious events throughout the book. Hasina becomes a prostitute to make ends meet and marries her own love interest instead of obeying her parents' wishes. Hasina is an important character in the novel because she represents women, who do not obey patriarchal rules.

Shahana

She is the daughter of Nazneen and Chanu. She is born in Brick Lane, London. Shahana has never been to Bangladesh, so; she does not like there nor does she like the Bengali culture. She does not want to turn back to Bangladesh as her father Chanu wishes and as a result there is a clash between her and her father Chanu. This situation can be regarded as clash between first and second generation in immigrant society. In the end. her father is unable to make her go to Bangladesh to lead a more traditional, cultural lifestyle.

Dr. Azad

He is a very close friend of Chanu and has a high ranking status in British society. As a result, he does not live in Brick Lane as it is perceived to be a ghetto area. He has gained a high status in British society but he has not been able to develop strong relationships with the British Bangladeshi community and strives to stay away from them. In the book, we notice that Dr. Azad does not introduce his family to Chanu and Nazneen and throughout the story he keeps his distant from the Brick Lane area and its community and sees himself as an important intellectual.

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