Identity in the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

1079 Words5 Pages
This book/movie is centered around the conflict of Gogol’s American culture and his Indian heritage. There are big misunderstandings between Gogol and his parents and their cultural differences make communication between them very difficult. The result is that Gogol, the main character, never finds ways to effectively be intimate with family and loved ones, because he is not comfortable or practiced in understanding and therefore communicating his own identity. Gogol grows up American and strongly identifies with his Americaness. As he grows up, he distances himself further and further away from his Bengali family. It is clear early on that Gogol feels the need to be accepted, fit in, and does not like being different than his peers. This dynamic doesn’t work for the family in many instances. Ashima and Ashoke were adults with established culture and identity as Bengalis; therefore they are foreign, misunderstood, and strange to Americans. This embarrasses Gogol so he is constantly trying to compensate by blending in with Americans. One of the main issues holding him back from being Indian under the radar is his name. It is different and does not go unnoticed which is why he begins to resent the name, his parents for choosing it, and ultimately everything that makes him different from other Americans. This is the main conflict that hangs over the Ganguli household, but it is manifested in smaller day-to-day conflicts. Gogol is teased about his name, his parent’s want him to identify with an aspect of Bengali culture, but he resists, the parents want to visit India, and Gogol and Sonia complain and feel their summer is ruined, Gogol has romantic relationships that his parents don’t understand, and finally Gogol moves away and changes his name, and barely keeps up with his parents. All of these smaller conflicts are indicative of the bigger struggle going on

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