59 pages 1 hour read

Zadie Smith

Swing Time

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2016

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Part 6

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 6: “Day and Night”

Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary

The narrator starts her degree in Media Studies at a university far away from London. She makes friends with other Black students. She starts dating Rakim, who is proud of his Black identity and refers to himself as a “Five Percenter” because he is “a God in himself—as all the male sons of Africa were God” (288). Rakim is the narrator’s first boyfriend, and she is entranced by his passion for his culture. But Rakim is less impressed by the narrator, whom he finds too masculine: She doesn’t garden or cook, and she competes with him intellectually. The narrator doesn’t fit into Rakim’s ideas of what a woman should be. On walks around the seaside town, Rakim teachers her about English geography and its historical relationship with slavery. Though she enjoys Rakim’s company and passion, the narrator “did not want to rely on each European fact having its African shadow, as if without the scaffolding of the European fact everything African might turn to dust in my hands” (294). The narrator starts to dread the arguments she has with Rakim when he is disappointed in her lack of knowledge about the things he cares about.