Brick Lane


Monica Ali

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When Hasina is still working in the garment factory in Dhaka, she writes to Nazneen about two days during which the city basically had to shut down because workers had declared them official strike days—days of “hartal” (meaning “strike action”). Mr. Chowdhury is furious about the inconvenience such strikes cause for men like him, but Hasina, as a sewing woman, understands better the plight of the day laborer. Hartal is one of the most effective options open to the lower classes to draw attention to their need for better wages and safer work conditions. At the same time, it means missing out on a day’s pay, which they can ill afford.
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Hartal Term Timeline in Brick Lane

The timeline below shows where the term Hartal appears in Brick Lane. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
...time when she and her husband ran a shady business in Bangladesh. Rather than keeping purdah, Mrs. Islam was an essential player in the company, using the handkerchiefs to signal to... (full context)
Chapter 7
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
Luck, Class, and Fate Theme Icon
...offense and assures her she is pure of body and pure of heart. She keeps purdah and no one can say she doesn’t. (full context)
Chapter 1
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
Assimilation and Immigrant Life Theme Icon
Jorina, in contrast, is a disgrace, according to Mrs. Islam, who prides herself on keeping purdah (the practice adapted by some Muslim women of keeping themselves separate from men by remaining... (full context)