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“The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2020

Gogol is a second-generation immigrant of an Indian Bengali family. As an America born child, he first tried to resist his parents’ Indian culture. The evidence from the novel “The Namesake” suggests that, there was a change in Gogol, when he later realizes his Indian culture. In this essay, we will try to figure out the events that indicate that Gogol later tried to accumulate the Indian culture. We will also explore that what was the impact of these events on the story.

The Asian immigrants to the foreign countries especially the United States found themselves alienated from their own country. They could not assimilate into their own culture because they think that the foreign culture does not represent their ideological and cultural values. The children who are born in America do not mostly want to adopt the life style of their parents, as they think US as their own country. Gogol is one such example.

One of the prominent examples of Gogol submission towards Indian culture is his abandonment of Maxine. Gogol and Maxine had good time together. Maxine’s parents, Lydia and Gerald, also did not create any hurdle in their friendship. They even think Gogol as a US born citizen.

Maxine herself had no problem with Gogol; she even expresses the desire to go India. Gogol’s abandonment of Maxine despite his father’s death suggests there was something else that prevented his relationship with Maxine. Gogol has developed a contradictory personality like his parents. His identity is divided, and could not identify between both the cultures.

He stepped out of Maxine’s life for good. Recently, bumping into Gerald and Lydia in a gallery, he learned of their daughter’s engagement to another man. (Lahiri 188)

The second event that is most prominent is his marriage with a Bengali girl called Moushumi. He accepted his mother’s wish to marry her despite his good relationship with Maxine. He could have easily rejected the marriage proposal, but because of his connection with the Indian culture, he was able to marry her.

Third evidence of his connection with India is his family’s frequent visits to India. Indian culture was not something new for Gogol. His family’s frequent visit to India made him realize the Indian culture. Gogol’s parents wanted their children to indulge in Indian culture, because they must be able to realize this culture. However, despite all these things Gogol thinks himself as American.

He longs for her as his parents have longed, all these years, for the people they love in India – for the first time in his life he know this feeling. (Lahiri 117)

The result for retaining his parent’s Indian culture was not always favourable for Gogol. His marriage resulted in divorce and he could not maintain relationship with Bengali wife. Gogol American lifestyle was very natural; however, his realization of his culture was a spiritual bond, which was a connection to his family values and a memory for his father’s death.

The death of his father revives the hidden love for his second country. We have seen in the novel that Gogol has problems with his own name. He in his early part of live moved away from his family, but later the adoptions of his old name suggest that he could not live a life ignoring his Parent’s background.

Works Cited

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.

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Further Study: FAQ

📌 What is a namesake example?

A namesake is a person, an object, or a location that has the same name as another entity. In other cases, someone is named after another person. This way, Lahiri’s character Gogol was named after a Russian writer.

📌 Is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri a true story?

The Namesake is a fictional story. It may feel very realistic at times, as it deals with the reality of cultural conflicts. Many aspects of the book probably reflect the author’s personal experience.

📌 What is The Namesake about?

Namesake is a book about two generations of a Bengali immigrant family. Ashima and Ashoke met through a wedding in India and later moved to America. Gogol, the protagonist of the story, is their son. The book deals with the issues of identity, both personal and cultural.

📌 Why did Ashoke name his son Gogol?

Ashoke named his son after Nikolai Gogol, one of Russia’s most praised writers. It holds symbolic meaning for Ashoke. He was reading a collection of Gogol’s stories on a train when he got into a terrible accident and survived.

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