Because Brick Lane is a story of two sisters separated by great distance, mentions of blood in the text often refer to the ties that bind family together and the misunderstandings and mundane tragedies that just as often keep them apart. When Nazneen slices her finger while chopping onions in her Tower Hamlets apartment, she immediately thinks of Hasina, because they are, in common parlance, blood relations. Nazneen, cut off from her family and the place of her birth, craves human connection, and more specifically, the easy, mutual understanding of people who have a shared past. What she finds at first is instead the bloodless, blank face of the tattoo woman across the courtyard. Later, while Nazneen performs her wifely duties, i.e. trimming Chanu’s corns, Chanu yelps in pain, worried she has drawn blood. He is mistaken, though, and this lack of blood hints at the lack of passion in their marriage. In contrast, during a particularly rough love making session, Nazneen bites the ear of her young lover, Karim, and blood drips from the wound, suggesting that Nazneen’s connection with him is stronger and more essential to her growth as a woman than her relationship with Chanu. In the end, though, Nazneen sees that Karim is lost and his pro-Islam activism empty, disruptive rather than productive. His pro-Muslim group, the Bengal Tigers, riots in Brick Lane, and to Nazneen it is as if “all the mixed-blood vitality of the street had been drained. Something coursed down the artery like a bubble in the bloodstream.” Blood represents what’s real and lasting, and, in this novel about family, that is the bond between Nazneen and Hasina.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Blood appears in Brick Lane. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...traits Chanu attributes to his grandmother’s cousin but that Nazneen considers proof of the baby’s blood relation to Hasina. Chanu calls the boy “Ruku,” but his real name is Mohammad Raqib.... (full context)
...lingers, telling her that things with the Bengal Tigers have died out. They need new blood. They’d planned a march against the Lion Hearts, but the Lion Hearts canceled everything because... (full context)