The Components of Identity in The Namesake by Lahiri

analytical Essay
1537 words
1537 words

All around the world people struggle with a sense of self-individualization, which is the internal battle each person has to face in order to discover ones true identity. The quest to find oneself is a difficult and lengthy endevor that can take a lifetime to accomplish. Some if not most people never reach a point where they can truly face who they truly are. In the Novel The Namesake by Lahiri, identity is illustrated by intensely examining the importance of ones background, name and culture. The main characters in the story try to uncover the reasoning behind their lineage, which they belive will lead to discovering the answer destiny in life. Playing on this belief the Ganguli’s sustain the element of traditions with them and practices upon migrating to the United States. The decisions that the family makes ultimatly leads a situation in which their son finds it tough to integrate himself in society resulting in him to not be able to grasp onto his own identity. “He hates his name . . . that is has nothing to do with who he is, that it is neither Indian nor American but of all things Russian” (Lahiri 76). His self hatred based on something as uncontrollable as his name incumbers his search for identity.

The Namesake is populated by characters who's shows signs of themselves being lost when it comes to purpose and destiny. Many characters struggle because most of the characters feel the tug and pull of different cultures, dreams, and traditions.

At the beginning of Chapter 1 the theme of identity and one’s name is introduced. The names of Gogol’s parents: Ashima (“she who is limitless, without borders”) and Ashoke (“he who transcends grief”) were chosen with care according to Hindi customs. Their names drive their lives in a...

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...ationship that they have will be accepted and will make both of their Bengali parents happy. As a couple they are shocked to notice together and as individuals that they pleased their parents however they never though they would do it in this exact way. They discover that it is very surprising yet comforting to them. (Moushumi more detail, about her backround)

Each character faces a choice of whether they should integrate themselves into American society. The choice leads them to consider how much they should compromise and if making certain consessions would betray the roots they came from. The Characters wrestle with these questions concerning their affiliations with their names, their relationships and their choices about the present and the future. By embracing the positive sides of both of his names Gogol finally embraces the two opposing sides of himself.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how lahiri's novel, the namesake, examines the importance of background, name, and culture.
  • Analyzes how the themes of name and identity are evident in chapter 3.
  • Analyzes how the names of gogol's parents, ashima and ashoke, are chosen with care according to hindi customs. the bengali tradition of pet names and bhalonam is explained.
  • Analyzes how nikolai gogol's name is a representation of his being bound to the backward bengali heritage of which he longs to break.
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