SS | ET Student
The crowded streets that Monica Ali describes in her novel “Brick Lane” are in many ways just as she writes. Brightly colored signs and banners array the tight streets. People mill about; wonderful smells drift out of the different restaurants. I was unfamiliar with all of it. There was something absolutely wonderful about being the minority. I was surrounded by a mostly Bengali culture, the language was different; the feel was different. I reveled in it, and I wanted more.
Throughout Ali’s narrative, the main character, Nazneen, often centers her story on fate. She refers back to fate more than she does Allah, which seems to speak volumes considering her Muslim beliefs. Her life begins with her mother leaving her to fate: she stands above her newborn baby and waits to see if it is fate’s design for her to live. Nazneen never forgets that, and her reliance on fate controls her more than her overbearing husband.
In contrast to this belief, Hasina, her sister, does not seem at all concerned with fate or her own future. She is content to wander through her life accepting whatever path comes her way. Nazneen begins to ponder her sister’s belief. “How would you be sure that Hasina was not simply following her fate? If fate cannot be changed, no matter how you struggle against it, then perhaps Hasina was fated to run away.”
Nazneen’s ideals and actions relate directly to fate. Her intricately detailed descriptions of wrinkled faces and thick carpet bring importance to even small details. Every piece of the universe is necessary and is placed there for a reason, just as she has been. Fate requires that she never overlook this.
After walking Brick Lane, I came to realize the significance of Nazneen’s fatal struggle. She had placed her hope in an unfeeling fate that took the life of her child, and even caused the death of her mother. At the end of the book, she takes her life back and begins to make amends for the hurt she has caused. She is still important; her family is still important, but they are important because she has decided so for herself. She finds a home among a culture that is coming to terms with this as well, a culture that is still fighting to be heard: a people trying to figure out what faith looks like.