Brick Lane


Monica Ali

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Themes and Colors
Displacement and Dissociation Theme Icon
Cultural and Religious Sexism Theme Icon
Luck, Class, and Fate Theme Icon
Assimilation and Immigrant Life Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Brick Lane, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Displacement and Dissociation

Brick Lane by Monica Ali is the story of Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London following her arranged marriage to a much older man, and her sister, Hasina, whose life in Bangladesh, chronicled in letters to Nazneen, is one of instability, hard work, and heartbreak. In London, Nazneen struggles not only with bouts of crippling homesickness and a longing for her sister but a palpable loss of self. Cut off…

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Cultural and Religious Sexism

The character arc Nazneen follows from submission to agency is not merely a matter of personal triumph. It is a political one as well. She and Hasina are born into a community that considers women inherently inferior to men, and that is built to a certain extent on the assumption that women will never challenge the established hierarchy.

The attitude of their father, Hamid, is representative of the systemic prejudice they will confront as…

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Luck, Class, and Fate

Nazneen is born two months early and is thought dead by her mother Rupban, her aunt Mumtaz, and the village mid-wife, Banesa. Then, when it is clear that she is actually alive, Banesa announces that she has been called back to earth by God. Banesa tells Rupban that she has two choices: she can take her daughter to the city hospital where she will be hooked up to machines and treated with…

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Assimilation and Immigrant Life

As Bangladeshis living in London, Nazneen, Chanu, and their Tower Hamlets neighbors share in common the seemingly impossible task of faithfully upholding the cultural and religious traditions of their homeland while trying to make lives for themselves and their families in a country that either does not see them or views their Islamic values as a threat to their Christian ones. Chanu refers to this fraught and tension-filled situation as “the tragedy of…

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