Semester of Degree Completion

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Thesis Director

Dagni A. Bredesen

Abstract

This thesis explores the correlations between characters' encounters with specific locations and their interior development as they adjust to their new environments in the novels Brick Lane (2003), White Teeth (2000), and Maps for Lost Lovers (2004). Monica Ali's Brick Lane focuses on Nazneen's (the protagonist) encounters with different places such as particular streets, pubs, restaurants, cafés, and train stations, which impact her personality to such an extent that, in the process of traversing London's physical terrain, she is transformed from a passive Bangladeshi rural woman into an active, independent agent in London. In With Teeth, Zadie Smith depicts the extensive movements of her characters during a momentous period of decolonization and globalization, and shows how the characters' encounters with specific places brought about by their movements result in the emergence of spatio-temporal identities. Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers, by creating a fictional town, Dasht-e-Tanhaii, explores the psycho-spatial relationships of the immigrants as they move within Dasht-e-Tanhaii and beyond, and points to the role places, both present and absent, play in the negotiation of identities in diaspora.

Each of these novels represents the space within which the diasporic individual moves not as homogenous, but rather as heterogeneous. Each encounter with a specific space has the potential to produce change within the individual as well as the space itself. The novels also imply that movement facilitates intersections of space and subjectivity, which, in turn, play vital roles in the construction of new identities.

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