Brick Lane Chapters 10-12 Summary & Analysis

Monica Ali

Brick Lane

  • 48-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 21 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer who specializes in literary analysis
Access Full Summary

Brick Lane Chapters 10-12 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 10 Summary

Razia gets a job in a garment factory only to lose it when it closes down. Nazneen’s home cottage industry comes at a steep price, as Mrs. Islam arrives to demand payment. When she leaves, Nazneen confronts her husband directly about the debt, only to be told it isn’t her concern.

Karim, the middleman between Nazneen’s sewing and his uncle’s garment business, gradually takes over the space in Nazneen`s home during his frequent visits to deliver materials and pick up the finished product. Little by little, she crosses boundaries: first by making him tea, then allowing him to pray before her, which leads to them committing the sin of a woman joining a man in prayer. This intimacy extends to his inviting her to a planning meeting on the estate, declaring they need some older women.

The internal struggle between erotic love and morality is externalized in the Islamic war over the female body. Nazneen understands something huge is happening on the estate, but not having the political language, she only can speak of penetration of boundaries – “men are writing leaflets and pushing them through doors.” This metaphor for the nervy Karim thrusting his libido into her veiled life serves to connect the political/public sphere to the sexual/private realm. Repeated like a chant, the plot progresses when Nazneen “unveils” her sister from “the seclusion of her underwear drawer.”

On the street, she has a momentary reconciliation between the stoic indifference of fate and desire. Moreover, the refusal to meet fate with indifference would impact on her happiness. This is a telling passage as it reveals how women in Islamic cultures are not encouraged to think, but to simply follow and obey their husbands. Yet, Nazneen’s instinctual opposition to Chanu returning home foreshadows her transgression and brings up a major question: could her succumbing to fate actually be a disguise for an act of rebellion against her protected life?

The key symbol for this transition is Nazneen’s sighting of a woman with white hair accompanied by a swaggering young man carrying a black medicine bag just as Chanu is reciting Shakespeare…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 1877 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Brick Lane.