Brick Lane Major Character Analysis

Monica Ali

Brick Lane

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Brick Lane Major Character Analysis


This is the protagonist of the novel who undergoes a remarkable transformation sourced in her evolving awareness of the connections between mind and body. Born in 1967 in an East Pakistan village before the Bangladesh Liberation, she is transported to London at the age of 18 by way of a marriage arranged by her father, the second wealthiest man in her village. She was born with a death rattle and her parents left her survival to fate. Her ultimate survival gave her a guiding sense of endurance, reinforced by her fatalistic mother, as well as her own quiet and stoic character. While Nazneen was reared to be a passive and obedient Muslim woman, this predetermined course is to be challenged in her new London environment. When she has to survive in a foreign culture, she learns to forge her fate through self-mastery. This inner achievement is reflected in her balance between the two cultures, that of her strict Muslim upbringing and that of the secular Western existence of her London-born daughters and lover. As she evolves, she learns to love her husband as a separate being by compassionately approaching him as a man caught between two cultures. 


Nazneen’s beautiful sister has a life of romantic adventure. Hasina appears in the narrative in the opening chapter and subsequently through her many letters. This passionate character wields her a beauty as a tool, allowing her to make up her own rules. Hasina’s impetuousness is the foil for her stoic sister. The opposition of their characters reveals why their bond is strengthened by separation. Hasina runs off with her lover as a teenager, embarking on a lifetime pattern of succumbing to passion, with fateful consequences. In marked contrast to her self-reflective sister, Hasina acts before she thinks. However, her letters reveal a growing awareness of how she creates her own fate.


Nazneen’s husband through arranged marriage is Bengali, though he has lived in London since he was 24. He is a homely but kind and gentle man burdened by lofty ideals. He is talker rather than a doer, yet sees himself as an intellectual…

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