Character Analysis Of The Chalfens In 'White Teeth'

1160 Words5 Pages
Spencer Dean
Fredell
4 December 2015
English 231-91NT
Chalfenism
In the novel White Teeth by Zadie Smith the Chalfens are an average middle class family that live close from the major characters of the book. They became prevalent when Archie and Samad’s children, Irie and Millat respectively, begin to go to them for tutoring after school. The first meeting between the Chalfens and Irie and Millat happens after the Chalfen’s son, Joshua, gets caught with marijuana. Consequently, one of the school administrators sends the “disadvantaged minorities”, Irie and Millat, to the privileged family, the Chalfens. The entire premise behind sending the children to the Chalfens is that because Irie and Millat come from a working class, non-white family
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She is insinuating that all African-American fathers leave their children and wives which makes them bad husbands. ““That’s what you want, Irie,” said Joyce in a familial stage whisper, as if they’d known each other for five years rather than five minutes, “a man like Marcus for the long term. These fly-by-nights are all right for fun, but what kind of fathers do they make?”” (Smith 265). Joyce further stating her racism and how she believes the Chalfens are better than the Jones' family, and the lower class minorities in general. She even goes on to act as if she knows about the Muslim culture. She again assumes a position of superiority by saying that all Muslims perform genital mutilation on the women, and arrange marriages. “Oh no, no, no. I believe in the Responsibility of Intellectuals…besides which, it’s been a joy.” (Smith…show more content…
Not only do they view them sexually, but as lesser people that need to be taught the ways of the English as if their culture is not up to the standards of the English. The Chalfens view Irie and Millat similarly to how Irie’s great-grandmother, Ambrosia, was viewed by Captain Durham as evidenced in the novel. “As the months flicked by, Ambrosia learned a lot of wonderful things from the handsome captain. He taught her how to read the trials of Job and study the warnings of Revelation, to swing a cricket bat, to sing “Jerusalem.” How to add up a column of numbers. How to decline a Latin noun. How to kiss a man’s ear until he wept like a child. But mostly he taught her that she was no longer a maidservant, that her education had elevated her, that in her heart she was a lady, though her daily chores remained unchanged. In here, in here, he liked to say, pointing to somewhere beneath her breastbone, the exact spot, in fact, where she routinely rested her broom. A maid no more, Ambrosia, a maid no more, he liked to say, enjoying the pun””(Smith 296-297). Smith includes the two separate plots in the same chapter to show the parallels between Ambrosia and Irie and

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