White Teeth

The Garden of Ideology: Leafs and Leaflets in Zadie Smith's White Teeth

"Oh fuck me, another leaflet? You can't fucking move-pardon my French-but you can't move for leaflets in Norf London these days" (373). Leaflets, brochures, letters, and other forms of publication and circulation are recurrent motifs in White Teeth (much to the annoyance of people like Abdul-Mickey) and Zadie Smith explores the humorous and poignant results of her characters' struggles to communicate. Smith characters have causes, and throughout her narrative they fruitlessly and comically attempt to press their own beliefs on others, refute others' beliefs, and convert others to the correct way of thinking. Leaflets and other forms of publication are the tools they use to proliferate their ideologies and-as Ryan Topps declares to Marcus Chalfen, "Myself and yourself are at war. There can only be one winner"-there is only room for one correct interpretation (421). Not surprisingly, these attempts to proselytize backfire and are ultimately unsuccessful. In Smith's world, ideology is the culprit responsible for the most divisive differences between her characters and their most unyielding Manichean prejudices. Smith is not implying that ideology is a negative thing, but rather, that the...

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