Brick Lane

Brick Lane Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why does Rupban not take Nazneen to the hospital?

    Rupban is a deeply religious woman who believes in trusting God. When her daughter is born premature and weak, she is told by the midwife she has two options: she can take the child to the hospital and leave her in the care of the doctors, or trust fate and hope the child will live. Rupban chooses the latter and decides not to go to the hospital. Rupban does not think she has the right to try and challenge fate: whatever is meant to happen, will happen. This choice profoundly shapes Nazneen's life, because her mother's decision leads Nazneen to think she should not try and make any decisions about her own life. This event also foreshadows a time when Nazneen will make a different decision after her own infant son falls ill.

  2. 2

    How do Nazneen's feelings about Chanu change over time?

    On the surface, Nazneen is always a dutiful and patient wife. However, as a young bride, she is disappointed to find that her husband is an older and physically unattractive man. As time passes, she also becomes frustrated with Chanu's inability to advance his career. He is always making promises about a future that never seems to happen. Nazneen's relationship with Chanu changes dramatically after their son Raqib falls ill. She realizes that Chanu is a loving person who is doing his best, and he is the only person who loves her son as fiercely as she does. After they lose Raqib, Nazneen always feels affection and compassion for Chanu even though he does not inspire passion the way Karim does.

  3. 3

    Why does Nazneen have an affair with Karim?

    Nazneen's affair with Karim seems very shocking because up until this point she has been passive, patient, and accepting. There is also no mention of her having experienced feelings of desire or a longing for passion up until this point. However, Nazneen has heard her sister describe feelings of being in love. She also has been gradually moving away from a passive acceptance of life, and towards a new sense of agency. When her son gets sick, Nazneen decides she is done with being passive, and is going to fight for the things she wants. Right before she meets Karim, Nazneen also starts working for the first time so that she can contribute to the family income. This experience strengthens her sense of independence. When she meets Karim, all of Nazneen's repressed desires and longing to make her own decisions come forth.

  4. 4

    What are the similarities and differences between the lives of Nazneen and Hasina?

    Nazneen and Hasina seem to have very different lives. Hasina rejects the future her father has planned for her and marries for love. As a result of this choice, she experiences many struggles such as being raped, living in poverty, and having to resort to prostitution in order to survive. She also never gets to experience having her own children. Amidst all of this, however, Hasina never gives up hope, and she always believes that happiness is possible. Nazneen's life seems much more stable: she marries the man who is chosen for her and emigrates to England, where she lives a life focused on caring for her family. However, Nazneen still encounters deep suffering through the loss of her son, she eventually shows a very independent spirit when she has an affair, and she decides to remain in England with her daughters. In the end, the lives of both sisters show that even when they make very different choices, women have similar hopes and longings.

  5. 5

    Why does Chanu become so determined that the family should return to Bangladesh?

    At the start of the novel, Chanu thinks England is a more enlightened place, and hopes that he will be able to find professional success there. However, over time, Chanu comes to see that racism and prejudice are always going to make it very hard for him to build the career he wants in England. As his children grow older, Chanu also fears that they will grow up without a sense of their history or pride in their cultural background. Ultimately, Chanu wants to feel a sense of belonging and see his daughters live in a world that shares his values. He comes to believe these goals will only be possible if the family returns to Bangladesh.