Summary Of The Right To A Secret By Lynn Wells

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According to Lynn Wells, Zadie Smith whilst writing NW adopted an aphorism of Jacques Derrida that lends itself to the notion: “If a right to a secret is not maintained then we are in a totalitarian space” (Wells 97). In her essay “The Right to a Secret: Zadie Smith’s NW,” Lyn Wells analyzes the verisimilitude of the latter and its effect in Smith’s NW. In the novel, Smith utilizes the aforementioned notion to suggest that one is defined by one’s secrets. Ergo, secrecy is definitive in narrating one’s identity, as Wells suggests. Particularly in NW, secrets not only illuminate the identity of the three protagonists but also the London community that hosts them. Further, as Wells contends, NW suggests the ethical dangers of “reducing people to identities…show more content…
Leah and Natalie deviate from social scripts for women such as pregnancy and fidelity. For Leah, there’s great internalized societal pressure for her to bear a child; she’s thirty-five years old and newly married. Yet, as Wells claims, she rejects the idea by surreptitiously using birth-control pills, because it opposes her paradise, which includes only her and her husband Michel. To this end, Smith explores chauvinist gender roles affects on women. Conversely, Smith also explores the sexual identity of her female characters. Natalie hooks up with strangers and abandons maternal duties by hiring a nanny. Subsequently, her extra-marital affairs are later discovered. These secretive defiant attacks against societal norms concede Wells’ claim that “the telling of [women’s] stories by others in ways that will recognize their uniqueness is complicated by the societal pressure to conform to the conventional narrative of womanhood, which includes heterosexual marriage and childhood” (Wells 103). In analysis of societal scripts for women, Wells’ article presents contentions that liken themselves to Smith’s thematic
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