Brick Lane

Brick Lane Imagery

Nazneen's Cooking

At various points in the novel, Ali describes Nazneen's careful attention to cooking traditional Bengali foods. Ali uses imagery evoking the smells, colors, tastes, and sounds of food preparation to vividly evoke the cooking experience for readers. The imagery creates a sense of vividness in the narrative and makes it more possible for readers to imagine themselves being present in the story. The food imagery also shows the attention Nazneen devotes to maintaining a continuity with her past and culture, even in a strange place. She can still make the dishes she grew up eating in Bangladesh, and feel a sense of connection to the life she once had.

Mrs. Islam

Mrs. Islam is a formidable and foreboding presence in the novel, and Ali uses vivid imagery to bring this character to life. She describes the sounds, sights, and smells associated with Mrs. Islam, such as the way she groans in pain, and the scents of all the medicines she takes. This imagery helps a reader to feel more interested in Mrs. Islam as a character, and to have a more specific idea of who she is as a woman. Nazneen's life is quite sheltered and confined, but the vivid imagery used to present different characters highlights the way in which she still encounters complex and interesting figures, even within her small social circle.

The Picnic in St. James's Park

During Chanu's "holiday" excursion, the family pauses to enjoy a picnic in St. James's Park. Imagery is used to describe the food they eat, the beauty of the summer day, and the various sights they observe in a large and complex urban park where many different people gather. This imagery creates a very pleasant impression which makes it seem like they are a happy family enjoying a lovely summer outing. However, the imagery also highlights the gap between appearances and reality, since Chanu actually has a tense relationship with his daughters, and Nazneen is secretly hiding an adulterous affair. Finally, the vivid imagery reflects Nazneen's heightened sensual awareness. Once she begins sleeping with Karim, she becomes hyper-aware of herself and the world around her.

Nazneen's Walk in London

Early in the novel, Nazneen flees into the streets of London after learning bad news about her sister Hasina. Since this is one of the first times Nazneen ventures outside of her neighborhood, the imagery shows the strong impression the city leaves in her mind. Imagery reflects the sights, sounds, and smells Nazneen observes in a city which seems grim and foreboding. Everything seems cold, alien, and colorless to her in contrast with her home country. The imagery reveals Nazneen's curiosity, but also her discomfort with her new home.