79 pages 2 hours read

Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Part 1, Chapters 4-5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Archie 1974, 1945”

Chapter 4 Summary: “Three Coming”

Clara calls Archie at work to tell him she is pregnant and that the doctor told her the child could end up having blue eyes. Archie takes this “rare genetic possibility” as “solid fact” (58) and begins handing out sweets to everyone in the office to celebrate becoming a father. While this is going on, Archie’s boss asks to speak with him in his office. Awkwardly, he tells Archie that he does not think Archie and Clara should attend the next company dinner, implying that Clara’s race makes people uncomfortable. He then tries to bribe Archie to stay away by offering him lunch vouchers. Archie fails to pick up on these hints, so his boss simply tells him that the next dinner will be short on space, and Archie leaves happy about the vouchers.

As time goes on, Clara and Alsana strike up a friendship, and they often meet for lunch in Kilburn Park. One day while they’re there with Neena, the conversation turns to their pregnancies; Alsana was alarmed to learn that she was carrying twins but grateful that Samad was not with her at the appointment because “a husband needn’t be involved in body-business, in a lady’s…parts” (63). Neena scoffs, asking whether her aunt’s pregnancy is “the immaculate bloody conception” (63).