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Americanah by Adichie and White Teeth by Zadie Smith Critical Analysis (Essay Sample)


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The two novels on requirements are Americanah by Adichie and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.


Class: Project #2-English 1100C
Identity formation in Americanah and White Teeth
Why do people choose to recognize certain identities over others? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Zadie Smith White Teeth explore identities of the various characters and how their experiences shape their views. Americanah mainly focuses on the lives of Ifemelu and her love interest Obinze their relationship, racism and Ifemelu’s experience in America as a Nigerian. White Teeth highlights the experiences of two London friends and their families Englishman Archie Jones and, Samad Iqbal a Muslim man of Bangladeshi descent. The immigrants see themselves as ‘others’ in Americanah and White Teeth, but it is when they accepted their backgrounds and connected with those different from them that they assimilated.
In the first chapter of Americanah, Ifemelu liked Princeton her first visit, but had to go to Trenton for hair braiding as the area around the university did not cater to black clients (Adichie 1). Ifemelu’ hair represents her attempts at adapting or pushing back against assimilation as she had to decide whether to let her hair remain braided or relaxed, and she is surprised that the first hair salon she visits was full of African immigrants. In White Teeth, the characters juggle their different heritages while living in a cosmopolitan city and even within the same family, members hold different views. Samad and Alsana had twins Magid and Millat who follow different paths while in Britain., as Millat becomes a Muslim fundamentalist who rejects the western ways despite staying in Britain longer than his brother Magid. The process of assimilation is more difficult when the family still clings to their Bengali Muslim heritage without adapting as Millat and his father no longer feel a connection with London it as though they are in exile.
Even though, Ifemelu is open-minded she faces difficulties adapting to the American way of life in a foreign land where she is away from her friends and close family members. Additionally, Ifemelu grappled with her identity and she was keen to listen to people talking and their accents including that of her American born cousin Dike. “Ifemelu watched Ginika at her friend Stephanie’s apartment, a bottle of beer poised at her lips, her American-accented words sailing out of her mouth,” (Adechie 118). In the passage, Ifemelu had noticed that her friend was increasingly talking like Americans, and Ginika is one of her friends from Nigeria who had moved to the U.S. earlier, and believed that Ginika was trying too hard to fit in that she had lost her identity

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