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Article
The Mouseness of the Mouse: The Competing Discourses of Genetics and History In White Teeth
Journal of Commonwealth Literature http://JCL.sagepub.com/content/early/recent (2013)
  • Michele Braun, Mount Royal University
Abstract
Zadie Smith’s 2000 novel White Teeth has often been hailed as a progressive vision of a multicultural Britain. Employing the discourses of genetics and describing Smith’s use of genetics in the novel’s theme of teeth and the FutureMouse, this paper argues that Smith’s vision of multiculturalism is made complex by genetic discourses. These discourses are contrasted with personal and familial history as the source of identity for the characters of the novel. Teeth are used metaphorically to represent the rootedness of characters and the effect that migration has on migrants. The text highlights the difference in certainty and uncertainty experienced by characters, contrasting the certainty of white English characters with the uncertainty in the lives of the immigrants and their families. This uncertainty is contrasted with the genetic determinism that informs the life of the FutureMouse as well the lives of the second and third generation immigrants depicted in the novel and Smith’s narrative provides no easy answers to the question of whether or not one’s DNA dictates one’s place in life.
Publication Date
2013
Publisher Statement
Online first content: http://JCL.sagepub.com/content/early/recent
Citation Information
Michele Braun. "The Mouseness of the Mouse: The Competing Discourses of Genetics and History In White Teeth" Journal of Commonwealth Literature http://JCL.sagepub.com/content/early/recent (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michele_braun/8/