How does multiculturalism affect the British characters and society in White Teeth?

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Multiculturalism is shown as a dominant factor in British society as it affects the characters in White Teeth, especially in the London neighborhood where much of the novel is set. Author Zadie Smith employs several generations of English people of diverse heritages to show the social transformations that occurred after World War II. While the novel's action primarily takes place as the twentieth century draws to a close, Smith's treatment addresses varied national and racial influences on British culture. As she focuses on characters who came to England from former parts of the British Empire, and on their descendants, she encourages the reader to ask what it means to be British.

Friendship is one significant component of multiculturalism as Smith presents it. The characters Archie and Samad are in the older generation, among whom an intercultural, interracial friendship might seem less likely. Marriage is another realm where multicultural dimensions strongly emerge, as Archie and Clara are an interracial couple, who come together despite national and age differences.

Along with the overall positive interactions among the three families, the harsher realities are suggested through the difficulties that lead Archie to try taking his life and that disillusion Samad with materialism as a corrupting influence on modern youth.

For the younger generation growing up in a changing social environment, Irie, Millat, and Joshua do more than anchor the personal situations of individuals. They are embody social ambitions and show how lived circumstances contradict common assumptions or override stereotypes.

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