Brick Lane Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Monica Ali

Brick Lane

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Brick Lane Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 1 Summary

Nazneen is born sickly, with a death rattle. The Bengali villagers maintain a vigil around the dying child. Her Aunt Mumtaz wants to take her to the city for treatment, but her grandmother Banesa stands by Nazneen’s mother’s decision to let fate take its course. Rupban believes the child’s surrender to fate will make it stronger. This bears out when on the fifth day, the child chooses life over death by taking her mother’s milk.

Nazneen’s sister, Hasina, is Nazneen’s direct opposite. When she is 16, her “unbearable beauty” is revealed to be a liability when she elopes with the nephew of the sawmill owner.

The scene switches to 1985 London. Nazneen is living with her new husband, Chanu, in Tower Hamlets, a Muslim residential community. She is to spend the afternoon preparing dinner for their first guest, Dr. Azad. This opportunity to prove herself as a wife is hampered by worries over her sister, whose letter brings news of her love marriage and hints of darkness brewing under the surface.  As Nazneen ruminates over the question of fate, she has an impromptu visit from her neighbors, Mrs. Islam and Razia. Nazneen hears the news of a woman falling to her death sixteen floors into the courtyard.

Nazneen triumphs over the time constraints and the dinner party is successfully prepared, leaving her free to accept Dr. Azad’s invitation to join the men for discussion about the “Going Home Syndrome.” Chanu understands this immigrant affliction, as the ties to their native land stronger than blood. The doctor is more cynical, declaring their people never truly live in their new home as long as they are trying to return to their native land. Chanu reveals how he is always expecting something that will make his life in London worth living, not realizing he just may have found the very thing by taking Nazneen as his wife.

Chapter 2 Summary

Transfixed by an ice-skating duo on television, Nazneen learns the English word for ice skate. This exchange with her husband reveals her handicap; she has no English, yet the passage reveals how she is learning…

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