The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

710 Words3 Pages
The way of life in America and India are very different, making it hard for Indians to immigrate to America. They are two different worlds and trying to live both may become difficult. Jhumpa Lahiri has experienced the struggle of balancing the two worlds. In America, most people have table manners and eat with a spoon, fork, and or knife. While in India, food is mostly eaten with your bare hands. The hardships to fit in America as an immigrant are possessed in The Namesake written by Jhumpa Lahiri. Gogol, the main character, struggles to uphold the traditions his parents expect him to follow. “Its not the type of thing Bengali wives do- a husband’s name is something intimate and therefore unspoken, cleverly patched over” states Ashima. (Lahiri 2) This statement made by Ashima exemplifies the importance of private life and feelings to Bengali families. In this culture family and close friends use a pet name then everyone else uses another name. Gogol is given an unusual pet name as his real name because his grandmother’s letter with his real name has not arrived. This is probably because it is a typical Indian name not an American name. He dislikes his current name and starts to reject the name in his teens. Later on, while in college he is only known as Nikhil, which is a more usual name. This puts him in an identity crisis. “Individual names are sacred, inviolable. They are not meant to be inherited or shared.” (Lahiri 28) Although this is true, Gogal and the children in America are embarrassed by their differences instead of appreciating them. In college, Gogol finds a girlfriend who is an American but his parents disapprove. They disapprove because she is not Indian. Gogal finds an American girlfriend because he wants to fit... ... middle of paper ... ...ged marriage. Mrs. Das also had a child from an affair with her husband’s friend. Bobby was the outcome of her affair 8 years ago. There are many similarities between The Namesake and “Interpreter of Maladies.” In both of these, an identity crisis is faced. In The Namesake, Gogol faces identity crises by rejecting his unusual name. “The family looked Indian but dressed as foreigners did, the children in stiff, brightly colored clothing and caps with translucent visors.”(Lahiri44) In “Interpreter of Maladies” the family faced an identity crisis trying to merge their American identity with their Indian identity. Even though they could have dressed like Indians in India, they didn’t. They dressed as they would in America and stood out. Both “Interpreter of Maldies” and The Namesake are related to the second generation Indian-Americans, along with Jhumpa Lahiri herself.
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