Brick Lane


Monica Ali

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Brick Lane: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Nazneen has another letter from Hasina. In it, Hasina writes of having an unquiet mind. She tends the children and cleans Lovely’s house, but she is no longer satisfied. Nothing that she sees or touches or cares for is hers. She knows what Rupban would say— we are women, what can we do? But, Hasina writes, Rupban was wrong about everything.
Hasina understands now what it means to serve the rich at the expense of herself. She supposes her mother would tell her to accept her fate, but Hasina has other plans.
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Hasina goes on to say that she has a horrible secret she must confess. She was there when Rupban fell upon the spear, and it was not an accident. On that day, Hasina had mostly been staring at her shoes. New, patent leather, they filled her with happiness. Then she saw Rupban walk across the village in her best sari and, intrigued, she followed her to the storeroom and watched Rupban meticulously select the sharpest spear she could find. Hasina prays to God to bring her peace, but the knowledge that her mother killed herself plagues her.
The clothing imagery in this scene—Hasina’s new shoes and Rupban’s best sari—works as a distraction from the life-changing event that is about to take place. Hasina, a poor girl living in an isolated rural village, is thrilled by her patent leather shoes. Rupban, about to kill herself, wants to meet her God in proper attire. Both the shoes and sari are forgotten, however, in the wake of such a tremendous loss.
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