What is the point of view in White Teeth?

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The point of view in this excellent contemporary novel is third person omniscient. This means that Smith writes as a god-like narrator, able to see the action as an external observer and able to see the thoughts, emotions and feelings of each character as she wills. The narrative therefore allows her to zoom around through space and time as the perspective shifts from one character to another. From the very opening of the novel, Smith presents us with the internal perspective of one character after another. Note how she begins with Archie Jones:

A little green light flashed in his eye, signalling a right turn he had resolved never to make. He was resigned to it. He was prepared for it. He had flipped a coin and stood staunchly by its conclusions.

The reference to Archie's internal thoughts clearly indicates this is third person omniscient, as it is told in the third person (not the use of "he") and the reader is privy to Archie's internal thoughts. Smith presents us with the internal thoughts and feelings of a huge variety of characters, and mostly (apart from Archie and a few other exceptions) these are characters who would be described as minority characters because of their ethnicity, background and religion. This of course allows Smith to develop her theme of multiculturalism as she presents us with a view of Britain that is radically different from other perspectives. By focusing on the characters of immigrants from Bangladesh, lapsed Jehova's Witnesses originally from Jamaica and such like, Smith explores the impact of multiculturalism and immigration on Britain and how a radically new and different society is being created as a result of the interplay between these different cultures.

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