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

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

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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