Narrative Structures in Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Narrative Structures in Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Toni Morrison's Beloved The novels 'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith and 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison both explore many different issues. However, a principle theme that appears to be common in both is the way in which the past influences the present profoundly and both authors use the narrative structures of the books to present this idea to the reader. The exploration of the relationships between characters through time, the past haunting the present and the way in which history and culture is revealed through the past are important devices used to show the emotions and further the plot. Each author does this in a very different way though and this is the power of the narrative structure and the way in which it can be used in a variety of different manners in order to achieve a similar effect. The narrative structure of 'White Teeth' is very logical. The novel is divided decisively into sections in order to present the reader with the emotions and views of the main characters. The four sections 'Archie 1974, 1945', 'Samad 1984, 1857', 'Irie 1990, 1907' and 'Magid, Millat and Marcus 1992, 1999' provide the reader with a clear cut structure to the novel, with the past and present accurately intertwined. The separate 'books' in the novel help the reader to understand how each character feels about the others, and therefore explores their relationships between time. The main example of this is the fact the Archie and Samad have been best friends since the Second World War. However, their friendship is based on a lie that Archie killed a Nazi scientist who was helping to develop the Master Race. The separate books help the reader to understand this and the... ... middle of paper ... ... way in which mistakes and horrific events can consume the mind. Two novels, which primarily appear to be about the struggle of races and racism in society are in fact also about the importance of time. Smith writes at the beginning of the novel: 'What's past is prologue' from 'The Tempest' perhaps suggesting that the novel is in fact based upon the idea that the past and the present are essentially intertwined and play an important role in modern day life. The way in which the past can haunt the present, have a negative and positive influence on the way in which characters react and the plot develops in both 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved'. It is an essential element of both novels which helps to create a layered structure and give depth to the plot so that the events of the present have a past: a basis which creates a more profound effect of the reader.

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