Brick Lane Chapters 19-21 Summary & Analysis

Monica Ali

Brick Lane

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Brick Lane Chapters 19-21 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 19 Summary

This chapter is just four pages, a letter from Hasina in which she reveals her secret. She writes of the day of their mother’s death. She was wearing her shiny leather shoes and trying to keep them reflective in the dirt when she saw their mother wearing her best sari. She wanted to run to her but couldn’t, for fear of ruining her good shoes. Instead, she followed her into the storeroom and stood outside. “I am a bandit stand there to rob her secret”. She watches as her mother tests the three spears with her finger. The third one is the right one. She moves to the rice sacks and Hasina hears a grunt and runs away. “May Allah forgive her. It’s she who leave.” 

Chapter 20 Summary

The effect of the letter is powerful. Nazneen looks upon it as a talisman. Nazneen packs the girls’ things, realizing “there was no escape” and she would not be on the plane when it leaves the following day. She goes through the apartment and finds Chanu’s address book with the address of Mrs. Islam.

She prepares to confront Mrs. Islam, who magically shows up at her door with her two henchmen sons, Son Number One and Son Number Two, who present a gift for the girls from his mother’s ominous black bag: two sets of ankle bells. Nazneen begins to present her case, firmly declaring the debt has been paid with excess and Mrs. Islam distorts her numbers with evil manipulations. Nazneen stands her ground. Then comes the violence, the cricket bat shattering the showcases with the clay figures. Nazneen stands up to Mrs. Islam by producing her numerical figures and declaring the debt has been repaid with interest. Taken aback by this display of rational power from her submissive friend, Mrs. Islam responds with manipulation, revealing that she knows about her love affair and threatens to tell Nazneen’s husband. Nazneen counters her threat by insisting her husband knows everything and inviting her to confront him. This shifts the energy because “the impossible happened.”  Mrs. Islam is surprised. Nazneen takes power…

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