The Construction of Identity in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth

  • Banaz Wirya Ali Department of English Languge - College of Languages- Salahaddin University-Erbil
  • Juan Abdulla Ibrahim Department of English Languge - College of Languages- Salahaddin University-Erbil
Keywords: Construction of Identity, Multiculturalism, Postmodernism, London


Postmodern writers demonstrate the problems of living in a postmodern world. Zadie Smith, as a Black British novelist and immigrant, is dealing with postmodern subjects in her first novel White Teeth (2000). The novel focuses on postmodern issues and in particular, the construction of identity of the Bangladeshi ( Samad Iqbal) and the Englishman (Archie Jones) who are two close friends, and their children’s living in multicultural London.

Obviously, White Teeth explores the troubles related to the existence in a diverse culture with the space between the migrants of the first and second generations. The characters are linked to their past, also they are unsatisfied with their life in a contemporary society. Smith portrays the second generation migrants and believeshey are totally different from Western societies in the way of raising up, living, thinking, etc. Some of the characters see themselves as strangers in a strange world; they even spent most of their life in London. Some other characters intend to connect to fundamental groups so as to construct their identity and achieve their social status.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the construction of identity through the lens of the theories of postmodern; specifically those of Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard and Fredric Jameson and these theories will then be applied to the novel practically. Also, this study will examine how the characters construct their identities and how the two different cultures interact on identity formation level in Smith’s White Teeth. Also, it will demonstrate the role of history and the past of the first generation to construct the second generation’s identity.


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How to Cite
Ali B, Ibrahim J. The Construction of Identity in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. JAHS [Internet]. 23Oct.2019 [cited 13Jun.2021];23(5):330 -42. Available from: