White Teeth

Finding a "Neutral Place": Postcolonialism Pitted Against Predeterminism in Zadie Smith's White Teeth College

Because postcolonial studies focuses on historical impacts of cross-cultural assimilation following World War II, it is closely linked with determinism, the notion that every event has an historical antecedent causing the present event's existence. In the novel White Teeth (2000) by Zadie Smith, we see many of the characters struggling to find a balance between an acceptance of Postcolonialism and their own will to predestine the lives of other human beings.

One of the primary tenets of Postcolonialism is that the past is expressed through the present, or, as Samad so aptly states to Archibald, “the generations [...] speak to each other” (100). Generational discourse is embodied by Alsana and Clara while they are searching for a proper place to raise their children. Alsana, believing “that living near green spaces [is] morally beneficial to the young” (52), chooses a home along the “High Road,” a place in between the urban ghetto of Willesden and Gladstone Park, “named after the Liberal prime minister” (52). Clara, who is also a first-generation immigrant, is searching for “a nice house somewhere midway between the trees and the shit” (40). Clara and Alsana's identical methodology for home-searching is a way of using their past...

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