White Teeth: the Iqbal twins

“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith is a novel about two special families united by destiny. Is seems that fate has played a hand in the whole matter and condemned the two families together for life. However, the story also satirizes multiculturalism and upholds fundamentalism. Smith presents multiculturalism as a dilemma that is inevitable but almost impossible to perfect. No more has the author of the novel successfully satirizes multiculturalism than in the two twin brothers Millat and Magid Iqbal.

The two men are a representation not only of the perils of multicultural communities but also mirror individuals fighting identity crises. Despite the fact that the two are twins Millat and Magid are not the friendliest of brothers and do not shy away from fighting out their differences in public. The irony of it is that despite the fact that the twins are so different it can also be said that they are mirror images of each others.

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Magid and Millat are polar opposites. Despite the t the two being twins, the differences play out in public from the onset of their birth. Magid is the elder of the twin by the virtue of him being the born first. This causes Millat to develop deep seated feeling of personal inadequacy and feels less of an Iqbal than his first born twin brother Magid.

Millat feels that this is the reason why his father develops a special liking for Magid and as such feels like he is the lesser of the Iqbal thus: “What is the root cause” Millat’s feelings of inadequacy? Magid. He has been born second because of Magid. He was the lesser son because of Maqid” (Smith 462). It is through this sense of inadequacy that Smith brings out the issue of identify crisis.

Millat feels the lesser iqbad, and as such seeks attention of his father in negative behaviors. His father doesn’t help thing and shows Magid more favoritism driving Millat further into rebellion.

Smith’s satirization of multiculturalism is seen in the cultural identity crises in the two brothers. Samad, the twins’ father, wants his sons not to lose their cultural heritage and as such pushes them to learn his traditional Mangal Pande Islamic faith just as he had done. As such he sends Magid back to Bangladesh so as he can be taught while Millat remains in England.

The irony of this is that the two rebel against their fathers wishes. Magid, intend becomes more English and a largely philosophical atheist and is only interested in pursuing law in England.

Millat who grows up in England rebels against the English culture and joins a rebel Muslim group, Kevin. In this way the Magid and Millat can be seen as identical: identical in that they are both rebels. Samat blames the western culture for corrupting his sons and thus laments: I should never have brought my children here so far from God” (Smith 145).

Magid and Millat are thus emblematic of the perils of multiculturalism through their identity crises, as well as fundamentalism. They both rebel against the wishes of their father to join radical groups. Magid becomes an atheist while Millat becomes a radical Muslim. This is quite the opposite of what their father intended of them to be. The twins can be seen as a representation of the challenges of a global community that is increasingly becoming multicultural.

Works Cited

Smith, Zadie, White teeth. New York: Random House, 2000. Print