Samad: Selfish or Justified?
As I was reading White Teeth, I was quite shocked initially when Samad sent Magid back to Bangladesh. Surely a father would not want to remove his child from a life where he has all of his basic needs met, and send him to a place in constant fear of catastrophic disaster?
Samad fears for his child’s moral well being more than his physical well being. At least, that was my only thought initially. I couldn’t believe that he would even consider doing such a thing without talking to his child and his wife far in advance. Of course the child would not want to go, but he needed to at least tell him. Also, even though I didn’t really like Alsana, I cannot blame her for her behavior toward Samad following his deportation of Magid.
Samad says that this western culture is what is ruining his children. It is quite ironic that Samad is himself struggling with staying on a righteous path. He eats meat, touches himself very often, and has an affair with an English woman. I thought that his sending Magid back to India was partly him projecting. He thinks that it is too late for him to be saved, and in my opinion, gets overzealous. It is interesting to think about how things might have turned out if Magid had not been sent East. I really do understand his concern for keeping his culture alive in his children. I do not think however, that his sending Magid back was altruism. I think that it was selfishness disguised as selflessness. He pretends to be making a sacrifice sending “the good son” to Bangladesh, but I think that he he is ashamed of himself and is trying to atone for his own sins.
I am not a direct immigrant. My mother’s family came here from Sweden in the early 1900′s, and my father’s family from Britain in the late 1800′s. I can safely say that I have no real Swedish or English culture left. I know about five words in Swedish and my mother cooks Swedish meatballs occasionally. The only obvious link to my heritage comes through in my Scandinavian traits: 6 foot 1 inches tall, blond hair, and blue eyes. I do sometimes wish that I had more culture left in my family, but I would never want to be sent back in order to regain it. Samad never considers anyone’s opinion but his own in the matter, and that is why I cannot agree with him.