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Are female characters more sympathetic than male characters?

White Teeth offers the reader with a great variety of characters with a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, personalities and approaches to life. Maybe, however, while male characters tend to be more prone to negative traits e.g. arrogance , desire to impose their vision of the world- there is a general tendency towards positive characteristics in the female counterpart. These positive aspects range from human traits, strength and independence to emotions that can be related to sensible approach to problems and life. We can analyse the question in terms of three couples: Archie/Clara, Joyce/ Marcus, Irie/ twins. Although Archie is the central character in the first part of the book, he has no real positive traits as he is depicted as a loser, irrational and passive person who prefers to trust to chance rather than being active and showing initiative. In contrast, Claras positiveness is not only visible in her beauty but also in her intelligence in questioning and rejecting her mothers Jehovahs Witness dogma as well as in her flexibility to deal with her husbands limitation, mediocrity and nondescript qualities. Her job as community worker and her attendance at night school show us her practicality and desire for self-improvement. Marcus is a successful microbiologist who gains fame with his experiments on the genetically manipulated FutureMouse; Joyce is an expert in horticulture and writer. Both are obsessed with perfecting humanity but through very different projects. On the one hand is Marcus self-confidence and tremendous arrogance with its rigid genetic determinism and totalitarian desire for control which display similarities with the sinister Nazi project to control the future through racial engineering of Dr. Sick (Dr. Perret); on the other is Joyces idealism associated with mothering, socially-aware qualities and gardening who listen to peoples problems. Her Earth mother attitude is more friendly than that of her husbands evil professor. The last contrast opposes Irie with Magid and Millat. Although the twins are polar opposites, they are always grotesque as their negative characteristics are wildly exaggerated; in fact, while Magid is hyper rational and insists on dressing and acting like an adult, Millat is a trouble- maker, obsessed with gangster lifestyle and ridiculous Islamic fundamentalism. In the middle stands Irie, a character whose main traits are modesty, pragmatism and intelligence and rejection but tolerance of extreme behaviours. Even though the three children have in common their desire to rebel against their parents, the twins seem to be more suggestible, while Irie is the only one who goes back to her roots and seems to be the more independent in deciding what she wants. In conclusion, the centrality of male characters in the first part is to be connected with the fact that their failings, ridiculous aspirations, pretentions and attitudes generate more comedy and social satire. Meanwhile, the female characters emerge as central in the second half of the book and seem to defend sanity, common sense and real emotional engagement. Irie, in particular, seems to be the balance between negative and positive qualities. In other words, male characters may be fun to watch but the female are the ones the reader would want to get to know.