The main story of White Teeth takes place between 1975 and 2000, there is a flashback to 1907. In Smith’s novel, the past isn’t just prologued, as the preamble claims, but it’s frequently difficult to distinguish from the present. Samad is especially concerned about his children’s education. He kidnaps Magid and brings him to Bangladesh to be raised by his family with Archie’s help. Irie attempts to straighten her hair in 1990.
Clara’s grandmother was pregnant by Captain Charlie Durham, who later founded the Glenard Oak School. Millat refuses to attend Magid because he is a supporter of FutureMouse, a movement that is opposed by Kevin and Fate.
Irie was in charge of reuniting the twins. The story ends on the day of the meeting, New Year’s Eve, 1992. Smith’s work provides us with several “endgames” in the spirit of television. Joshua and Irie in 2000 join Hortense, Mickey opens up O’Connell’s bar to women, and Archie and Samad eventually allow their spouses to join them.
White Teeth, Zadie Smith’s award-winning novel, was published in 2000. The story follows two people from different origins who meet and become friends during WWII. In 2002, it was made into a four-part miniseries for British viewers.
Summary of the White Teeth
White Teeth begins on 1st January 1975, with Archie Jones, a middle-aged Englishman, considering suicide. Following his failed marriage and growing dissatisfaction with his otherwise mundane lifestyle, Archie tossed a coin and chose to end his life. His plan is defeated, though, and Archie has a change of heart. Archie attends an “End of the World” celebration at a hippy commune, ecstatic at the prospect of a second chance. Clara Bowden, a 19-year-old Jamaican immigrant, is the woman he meets and falls in love with.
According to a flashback, Clara’s mother, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and Clara were raised in expectation of the approaching apocalypse. As a teenager, Clara met a man called Ryan Topps, who exposed her to the community milieu, despite her early religion. When Ryan became a Jehovah’s Witness, though, the two became estranged. Clara marries Archie six weeks after meeting him, despite her feelings of despondency.
Archie is pals with Bangladeshi immigrant Samad Iqbal, who is also freshly married to Alsana Begum, a young girl. In 1945, Clara and Alsana start dating as a “rearguard effort against their husbands’ acquaintance”. Archie and Samad, both 17 and 18, were assigned to a tank patrolling Eastern Europe at the time. Due to several unpleasant events, Samad and Archie were left alone in a small Bulgarian town just as the European war came to a close. “Strange enough for an Iqbal and a Jones to form a bond”, and Archie earned Samad’s trust by allegedly assassinating a Nazi scientist called Dr Perret who lived nearby.
The story shifts to the year 1984. The Joneses have a girl named Irie, while the Iqbals have twin sons named Magid and Millat. Accidentally in a school function, Samad meets and falls in love with Poppy Burt-Jones, the children’s music teacher. Their relationship term was interim, which Samad ends due to his growing religious shame. After seeing this scenario, Samad is certain that Western culture is corrupting him and his family. Samad wants to keep his culture and tradition alive by sending Magid to Bangladesh to be raised, in part because of Mangal Pande, his great-grandfather, who he believes was a nationalist hero. After that, Samad begins to dismiss Millat, who was never as diligent as his brother and begins smoking, sleeping about, and getting into mischief.
Meanwhile, Irie’s early attraction to Magid shifts to his brother, but Millat never expresses romantic feelings for her, choosing instead to seek white women. This adds to Irie’s concerns about her origins and looks.
In 1990, Irie, Millat, and a pupil at their school, Joshua Chalfen, were charged with narcotics possession. Rather than punishing Irie and Millat, the headmaster sends them to Joshua’s residence to study math and science with Marcus, a geneticist. Irie is immediately drawn to the Chalfen family’s intellectualism as well as their middle-class lifestyle. Marcus’ research was based on altering mice’s genetics in the hopes of one day curing human diseases, and she eventually starts working for him as a secretary.
Meanwhile, Millat has captured the interest of Marcus’s wife Joyce, a gardening specialist who “need[s] to be needed” and devotes herself to Millat’s recovery. Millat is also being more influenced by Kevin, an Islamic fundamentalist organization, and Joyce’s devotion to him irritates her son, Josh, to the point that he joins Fate, an extremist animal rights group. The fact that Marcus and Magid start writing letters to one other, over the sense of logic and order, adds to the confusion. As a result, Marcus’s interest in Irie wanes, and Irie takes his advice to pursue a career in dentistry.
In 1992, Magid returns from Bangladesh with completely Westernized beliefs and perspectives. This irritates Samad, but it pleases Marcus, who wants to pay for Magid to study law so he may supervise the legal aspects of Marcus’s research. Meanwhile, Magid assists Marcus in dealing with the media around “FutureMouse,”. Joyce enlists Irie’s help in organizing a reunion for Magid and Millat because she is concerned that they have grown apart, and Irie ends up having relations with both the twins on the same day.
Everything comes to a crescendo on New Year’s Eve, just before a FutureMouse exhibit opens. Marcus’s work has enraged several organizations, including KEVIN, FATE, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, all of which plan to hold demonstrations during the event. The Joneses and Iqbal’s are also there, as is Irie, who carries the baby of either Magid or Millat.
Marcus starts a FutureMouse presentation before turning to thank an elderly man who claims to be his mentor. Millat—who, unknown to the rest of KEVIN, has a gun—is ready to kill the guy, and the gentleman is Dr Perret, Archie understands. Archie did not shoot Perret, according to another flashback, but instead flipped a coin, burdened by the moral weight of what he was about to do. Perret benefited from the crime, but when Archie was stooping to receive the money, he got a bullet in his leg.
When Archie leaps between Millat and Perret in the present, he injures his leg again. FutureMouse’s glass cage is shattered by him, helping the mouse to flee. The story moves forward to reveal the fates of the novel’s main characters at this point: Magid and Millat are both sentenced to community service as a result of the confusion over the shooter’s identity; Irie and Joshua reunite and spend New Year’s Eve 1999 in Jamaica with Hortense and Irie’s “fatherless little girl”, and Samad and Archie bring their wives to the pub they used to frequent alone. In contrast, the story ends with Archie grinning as FutureMouse walks away.