Brick Lane

Brick Lane Literary Elements



Setting and Context

The action of the story takes place between 1967 and 2001 in Bangladesh and in London.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the perspective of a third-person omniscient narrator who presents the events from an objective point of view.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is detailed and contemplative. Monica Ali makes it possible for readers to imagine the various settings and emotions of the characters. The tone encourages a reader to reflect on different perspectives and opinions, without prioritizing one over the other.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Nazneen is the protagonist of the story; Mrs. Islam is the antagonist.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is an internal one, resulting from Nazneen being torn between being submissive and obedient, and learning to listen to her own instincts and be independent.


The story reaches its climax when Nazneen refuses to go back to Bangladesh with her husband.


In the first chapter, Nazneen reads a letter her sister sent her and from which Nazneen understands just how happy her sister is even though she went against their parents’ wishes. In that moment, Nazneen thinks how maybe she is supposed to rebel and follow her heart. This thought foreshadows later events when Nazneen will have an affair with Karim. The story about Nazneen's childhood, where her mother refuses to send her to a hospital, also foreshadows how Nazneen's son will later get sick and she will do everything in her power to save him.




Because of Chanu's education and interest in learning, he often alludes to important writers and thinkers from both English and Bengali traditions. In particular, Chanu references Shakespeare a number of times and at one point he quotes to Nazneen from Richard II. This allusion refers to a speech where Richard is mourning his fall from power, and grieving his loss of position. The allusion helps to show an audience that, likewise, Chanu is mourning his disappointment and lost ambitions.


See section on Imagery





Metonymy and Synecdoche