79 pages 2 hours read

Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Part 4, Chapters 16-18

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “Magid, Millat, and Marcus, 1992, 1999”

Chapter 16 Summary: “The Return of Magid Mahfouz Murshed Mubtasim Iqbal”

While waiting to meet Magid at the airport, Marcus notices a young woman reading a pop science book he cowrote. He asks her about it and is annoyed when she begins to talk about the potential ethical implications of genetic engineering. He is also frustrated with Joshua and hopes that Magid will be a “beacon for right-thinking Chalfenism even as it died a death here in the wilderness” (348).

Not everyone is as happy as Marcus to see Magid return. Millat refuses to stay in the same house as Magid, so Magid moves in with the Chalfens, which leads Joshua to move in with the Joneses. Irie has moved back home but is unhappy both there (where Joshua criticizes her for working with his father) and at the Chalfens’. Magid has become Marcus’s sole “confidant […] apprentice and disciple” (352) and handles the press surrounding FutureMouse, which Marcus intends to place on public display. Irie finds Magid’s demeanor annoying: “He had this way of smiling at you, neither wounded nor angry, and then inclining his head […] in a gesture of total forgiveness. He had absolute empathy for everybody, Magid. And it was an unbelievable pain in the arse” (354).