NW Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of NW.
This section contains 323 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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NW Summary & Study Guide Description

NW Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on NW by Zadie Smith.

NW is a novel by author Zadie Smith. The story follows the lives of various people that grew up in and live in the NW neighborhood of London. The main character in the first half of the novel is Leah Hanwell. Leah has a loving mother, Pauline, and a loving husband, Michel. Being a white woman married to a black French man poses its own challenges, but these are not challenges that are new to Leah. Her best friend, Natalie is also black.

Leah has reached adulthood wondering when all of her friends became so grown up while she feels as if she isn't on the same level as they are. She loves Michel, but he is ready to take their lives to the next level by buying a house and having kids. Leah is secretly doing everything she can to avoid any of these plans, including stealing Natalie's birth control pills so she can take them without Michel knowing she's on the pill. Leah even has an abortion without telling Michel she was ever pregnant.

The second half of the novel follows Leah's best friend, Natalie Blake. Natalie Blake comes from the same neighborhood as Leah, but her family couldn't be more different. In addition to overcoming poverty obstacles, Natalie also faces the challenge of being black. Natalie manages to make it as an attorney, marry a successful financial expert and have two children. Natalie, too, however, is leading a secret life of her own. Even with all of her success, she yearns for a different life, which causes her to respond to personal ads where couples are seeking a third sexual party.

The novel reveals that even those that grow up in the same neighborhood can end up with very different lifestyles. While Leah and Natalie are able to lead middle-class lives, some of the other people that they knew growing up are drug addicts and thieves.

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This section contains 323 words
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