Thursday, March 15, 2012

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: Ch. 1-4

At this point in the novel I am reminded again of Herland. The argument about women’s expectation before marriage versus the reality after marriage speaks out. I like the contrast of the three women so far. Clara marries with the hopes that it will free her from her current situation. Alsana has an arranged marriage, very traditional. Then, you have the opposing, more modern, character of Neena, the Niece of Shame. Clara and Alsana both are disappointed in their marriages, yet they settle themselves with the idea that they have married good men and that should be enough. Neena, however, is the voice of the next generation, even though she is around the same age as Clara and Alsana. Neena has a more modern view of marriage where you should get to know the guy, fall in love, and then get married. I think both Alsana and Clara expected that their marriages would give them a better life, and, now, they are struggling with the reality of marrying older men with pasts.

When it comes to Sam and Archie, I can sympathize with them. In no way do I think that they are great husbands, although certainly not horrid. But, as someone who served in the military, I know what it feels like to want to relive those soldiering days. When you are a soldier, you have honor and respect. You know that what you are doing is the ultimate of respectable duties. When you get out of the military, it is as though all of that respect and honor disappears. No one remembers that you served your country. It can be difficult to live in the civilian world when you have to take a dead-beat job just to pay the bills. You start thinking, “I am better than this. I was a soldier!” I think that it is naturally to cling to that memory, whether the experience was good or bad. I also think that it is a yearning that most civilians don’t understand.

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