Literature Study GuidesWhite TeethPart 4 Chapter 18 Summary

White Teeth | Study Guide

Zadie Smith

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White Teeth | Part 4, Chapter 18 : Magid, Millat, and Marcus 1992, 1999 (The End of History Versus The Last Man) | Summary

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Summary

KEVIN's founder, Brother Ibrahim ad-Din Shukrullah, speaks on "Ideological Warfare." Shukrullah denounces Marcus Chalfen, who seeks to destroy "our history, our culture, our world." He asks, "Who will make the sacrifice and stop this man?" While Shukrullah's radical conviction—that religion and politics should be intertwined—alienated him from the Islamic clerical establishment, his violent extremism resonates with black and Asian youth in Britain. KEVIN's appeal is twofold: it offers a critical analysis of Western culture and promises revenge to its victims.

Joely and Crispin founded FATE, a radical animal rights group known for its violent direct action tactics. Joshua Chalfen abandoned Chalfenism and aligned himself with FATE, compelled by his intense sexual attraction to Joely, Crispin's wife, as much as by his realization that "the largest community of earth, the animal kingdom, was oppressed, imprisoned, and murdered on a daily basis." FATE is planning an action for the December 31 unveiling of FutureMouse. They discuss whether their focus should be the liberation of the individual mouse or the undoing of Marcus Chalfen.

At midnight on December 20 Irie receives a call from Hortense and Ryan Topps, warning her to cease involvement with Marcus Chalfen, the "enemy of all humanity." When Irie is dismissive, they tell her the Jehovah's Witnesses are planning to use the December 31 event to save souls through hymns and a hunger strike.

Magid Iqbal has been present for every step of the FutureMouse process, from designing the genes to the animal's birth. He proudly equates the idea of certainty the animal embodies with God.

Analysis

Three groups view Marcus Chalfen as Public Enemy Number One because his work violates their principles. For KEVIN, Chalfen and his work embody the arrogance of Western culture, which has subjugated the East for centuries and now seeks to subjugate life itself by the manipulation of genes. This is an affront to the natural order established by Allah, which KEVIN seeks to restore by stopping Chalfen. For the Jehovah's Witnesses, Chalfen is "an enemy of all humanity" because his work is a distraction that could prevent unsaved souls from salvation. For FATE, Chalfen's work is animal cruelty.

Each group is connected to one of the book's central characters, and each of these characters is also significantly connected to Marcus Chalfen. This web of connection is marked by conflicts of interest. Joshua's membership in FATE conflicts with the fact that he is Marcus's son. Millat's membership in KEVIN conflicts with his being a beneficiary of Chalfen hospitality, however flawed that hospitality may be. Ironically, neither Joshua nor Millat are very ideologically aligned with the groups they belong to. Joshua is more interested in Joely's body than animal rights. Millat is more interested in being a gangster with a posse than in Islam. Nevertheless, group pressure will compel them to betray Marcus. Irie is Marcus's secretary, and, while she is not a Jehovah's Witness, her grandmother is. The text has not yet revealed what actions KEVIN and FATE plan to take on December 31, but it seems probable that KEVIN, given its extreme ideology, might use violence, while FATE might attempt to liberate FutureMouse or stop Chalfen with some sort of potentially violent "punishment." The Jehovah's Witnesses are solely concerned with drawing attention to their own message.

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