Brick Lane

Brick Lane Irony

The Death of Razia's Husband

Razia's husband dies in a workplace accident around the middle of the novel, leaving her alone with two young children. His death functions as an example of situational irony: before he dies, he has been strongly opposed to Razia working, or doing anything independent. His rigid and controlling behavior creates expectations that he will be an obstacle between Razia and her desire to work. However, his death subverts audience expectations because it actually requires Razia to start working, and to be able to provide for herself and her family. Razia herself picks up on this irony when she wryly observes to Nazneen that "I can get that job now. No slaughter man to slaughter me now."

Chanu's Certificates

Chanu is disproportionately proud of his various certificates and diplomas, and displays them by framing and hanging them. However, none of these certificates ever bring him the recognition or career opportunities he longs for. Ironically, the one certificate that helps Chanu secure work is one he does not value very highly: his driver's license. When Chanu announces that he has found work as a taxi cab driver, his family does not appear to even know he had a driver's license, even though he has talked incessantly about his other useless credentials. The revelation of Chanu's driving license subverts audience expectations that he is a totally intellectual man with no practical skills. It also creates a comedic contrast between what will help him to be successful, and what actually creates opportunity for him.

Chanu's Vacation

After living in London for decades, Chanu decides to experience the city as a visitor or a tourist. His elaborate preparations and description of travelling only a few blocks as a "family holiday" creates dramatic irony. A reader knows that Chanu is behaving in an odd and funny way, and that the people he interacts with are likely either judging him or laughing at him. Chanu, however, is blissfully unaware that he is doing anything unusual, and takes his project very seriously. For example, when Chanu cheerfully tells a bus driver that the family lives near Brick Lane, but is on vacation in London, a reader knows that he is appearing ignorant to the bus driver. In his own mind, however, Chanu believes he comes across as a sophisticated and worldly man.

Lovely's Charity Work

In her letters, Hasina describes how Lovely spends a lot of time going to benefits and seemingly supporting charitable causes. Hasina seems to genuinely believe that Lovely is motivated to be helpful and caring, but it is clear to a reader that Lovely is actually motivated by her desire to get attention and compete with other wealthy, high-society women. For example, Hasina records Lovely saying that her supposed "friend" will not be the only person to start a charity, indicating that she is motivated by her own competitiveness and not a desire to help people. The gap between what a reader can see about Lovely, and what Hasina sees, creates dramatic irony. This irony reveals that Hasina is perhaps somewhat naive and trusting, and tends to see the best in people.