White Teeth is a celebrated novel published by a British writer Zadie Smith. The book delves into the social engagements of two war comrades, Samad Iqbal with Englishman Archie Jones along with their relatives in the multi-ethnic London.
Exploring the thematic significance of the novels title “White Teeth” it would be instrumental to argue that the title touches on the aspects of cultural identity. Consider the fact that the author explores the life’s of diverse families with distinct skin colors but all with white teeth. Therefore, the symbolism of white teeth can be linked to the ethnic or racial origin of the families.
Profoundly the novel creates a pool of pathos with humor, while in the same way demonstrates the hardships faced by the immigrants as well as their children as they are faced by challenges of dissimilar society. From such attributes the reader is introduced to British cultures which are very much diverse from those of the immigrants. Hence, these differences are illuminated through the depiction of middle and working class English cultures as embraced by Chalfens with Archie.
The significance of the title rests in that we all have our unique origin, despite personal inclination. Therefore, White Teeth reflects the challenges of multiculturalism including the hardships of encountering assimilations.
For instance, examining the pedestal meaning purpose of the teeth, it is widely accepted that white teeth are a sign of health and beauty, thus, in literal meaning, the novels title could equally be translated to convey the message of cultivating unpollinated cultures. And this would result in racism or ethnic cleansing.
Perhaps that is why Alsana is depicted as dealing with aspects of prejudices apparent in London society. Hence, the author states “Black people are often friendly, though Alsana, smiling at Clara, and adding this subconsciously to the short ‘pro’ side of the pro and con list she had on the black girl. From every minority she disliked, Alsana liked to single out one specimen for spiritual forgiveness.”
From such perspective the author thus delves into diverse social aspects which touch on the symbolism of white teeth. More so, concerning the legitimacy of having pure cultures which translates to racism the author asserts “I just sought to demonstrate that there are societies that perform well. There’s wretchedness for the manner custom is fading away but I sought to illustrate people making an endeavor to comprehend each other, regardless of their cultural dissimilarities.”
As the narrative unfolds it becomes obvious that the families are not willing to let go their past, their identity and origin. This expressly anchors on the purpose of white teeth; ones pure origin ignites pride and self consciousness. And this is illustrated by the manner Samad perceives the English life being non-conducive in regard to Islamic upbringing. Yet the irony of this dynamism is shown in Magid who discards his faith to be a man of science.
Looking at the manner the theme of teeth is replayed in the novel, it would be instrumental to state that the symbolism is employed to illustrate the overchanging attributes of White Teeth. No matter the condition, tone, color, religion, country or gender, we all have white teeth.
To reinforce the significance of ones origin we have Irie becoming a dentist and this shows that she embarks on finding for unifying factors in the society. Thus, the title White Teeth touches on the uniqueness of ones cultural identity amid the growing multiculturalism.