Zadie Smith On Beauty Analysis

978 Words

Take the consummate ideals of beauty and clash it against the paradoxes of the human condition and you get Zadie Smith’s fresh and original “On Beauty”. “On Beauty” follows Smith’s critically acclaimed “White Teeth” novel in her writing style that is smart, observant and humorously ingrained with current politics. The novel centers around the rivalry between the liberal sharp-tongued Belsey family and the conservative close-knit Kipps family. Both patriarchs, Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps, are erudite art professors with polar opposite politics whose academic and personal tug-a-war is set in the prestigious fictional Wellington University in Boston. “On Beauty” serves as Smith’s thesis on beauty which deconstructs its ideals such as art, love …show more content…

The main clash comes from Howard’s struggle with the beauty in love versus his human self-sabotaging desire. Howard loves his wife. Yet he stumbles into a three week affair with longtime family friend and colleague Claire Malcolm and later into another joyless one with his student Victoria Kipps. He battles his disconnected sense of what should be valued as beauty, like family and true love, with his flawed desire that seeks artificial beauty. Kiki struggles against the ideals of feminine beauty versus what has become of her over time. Once a sex symbol in her youth, she now realizes that her image has changed to what “white American boys view as the Aunt Jemima on the cookie boxes of her childhood”. Jerome battles the ideal of beauty in family versus the dysfunction that exist in his household. When he falls in love with Victoria Kipps he later understands that he fell in love with the idea of wholeness in a family that her clan emanates. Zora Belsey’s battle is against the idea of fairness in beauty and the unfairness in reality. After she uses her skills to tirelessly advocate for the inclusion of handsome, talented yet unprivileged Carl Thomas in a poetry class, she is (in her mind) unfairly rewarded by finding he has slept with another better looking student and really cares little about her efforts. Levi battles with the idea of truth versus fakes. He views the streets as the epitome of truth and black realness, but finds out through his unlikely friendship with a Haitian counterfeit street vendor that truth is not so black and

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