One of the main themes of the novel Brick Lane by Monica Ali is that of fate. Nazneen's internal struggle revolves around her desire for personal agency and the feeling of being fated to follow a certain path. The theme of fate is highlighted through her conflicts with tradition, her longing for a more independent life, and her ultimate choices that determine her destiny.

In the beginning, Nazneen embodies a passive acceptance of fate. As a young girl, she is married off to Chanu, a man twice her age, and sent from her rural village in Bangladesh to London's Brick Lane. Nazneen is taught from a young age by her mother that fate controls her life and it is fruitless to fight against it: “ ‘we must not stand in the way of Fate. Whatever happens, I accept it. And my child must not waste any energy fighting against Fate. That way, she will be stronger’ ” (p. 8). Nazneen thus embraces her role as a dutiful wife and mother, rarely questioning her circumstances.

As the story progresses, Nazneen begins to question the idea that it is impossible to change fate. A significant point in Nazneen’s journey is the birth of her son Raqib. When he is an infant, Raqib becomes suddenly ill, and after Nazneen takes him to the hospital, his situation rapidly improves, which makes Nazneen understand that her actions affect Raqib’s fate: “At once she was enraged. A mother who did nothing to save her own child! If Nazneen […] had not brought the baby to the hospital at once, he would have died” (p. 111).

However, Raqib still dies which leads Nazneen to once again question her beliefs and revert to the idea that perhaps fighting against fate is fruitless. Ultimately, however, the unhappiness she faces in her mundane everyday life as well as the revelation that her mother, who instilled in her the idea that one must be resigned to their fate, was deeply unhappy and committed suicide because of it, leaves Nazneen to consider that she must create the life she wishes for instead of passively accepting her unhappiness. 

Fate in the novel is also represented by unexpected and chance encounters. Nazneen's life takes a different turn when she meets Karim, a young man with whom she begins an affair. As Nazneen's relationship with Karim develops, she experiences a shift in her perception of fate. Their forbidden affair represents a conscious choice to embrace desire and defy societal expectations. Through her relationship with Karim, Nazneen learns that she can actively shape her own fate and is not merely a passive observer of her life's course.

The novel further explores the theme of fate through the letters from Hasina, who faces her own difficulties back in Bangladesh,. Hasina's life is marked by a series of unfortunate events and difficult choices, illustrating how external circumstances and societal constrain...

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