Brick Lane


Monica Ali

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Brick Lane can help.
When Nazneen first moves to London, Chanu often lectures her about what sort of people she should socialize with and who she should try to avoid. Chanu, who prides himself on being an educated man, is always disparaging the Sylhetis, members of an ethnic group from Bangladesh and India that he says are peasants and not worth knowing. Sylhetis make up the bulk of the population of Tower Hamlets and are obviously a diverse group of people. Chanu’s snobbish attitude toward them shows just how much he has internalized the very same racist viewpoints he claims to despise.

Sylheti Quotes in Brick Lane

The Brick Lane quotes below are all either spoken by Sylheti or refer to Sylheti. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Displacement and Dissociation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Brick Lane published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“And when they jump ship and scuttle over here, then in a sense they are home again. And you see, to a white person, we are all the same: dirty little monkeys all in the same monkey clan. But these people are peasants. Uneducated. Illiterate. Close-minded. Without ambition.” He sat back and

stroked his belly. “I don’t look down on them, but what can you do? If a man has only ever driven a rickshaw and never in his life held a book in his hand, then what can you expect from him?”

Related Characters: Chanu (speaker), Nazneen
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Brick Lane LitChart as a printable PDF.
Brick Lane PDF

Sylheti Term Timeline in Brick Lane

The timeline below shows where the term Sylheti appears in Brick Lane. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
Assimilation and Immigrant Life Theme Icon
...and her husband sent the girl away partially to save her from entering into a love marriage . Razia says such stories make her fear for her son, Tariq, and daughter, Shefali. (full context)
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
Assimilation and Immigrant Life Theme Icon
Nazneen tells Razia that her sister made a love marriage . Nazneen then recounts her sister’s story, beginning with Hasina’s incredible beauty, which everyone in... (full context)