The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

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The Namesake, presents the life of Ashima Ganguli, who has been transported from India
to America with grace and compassion. This story by Jhumpa Lahiri, is an allegory establishing an identity with using symbolic meaning between two cultures that intersect. The themes throughout the story refer to immigrant experiences, the conflict of cultures, the contrast of assimilation and the connection between generations. The Namesake, opens the worlds of emotions Ashima experiences, while straddling her two worlds. This story of identity allows readers to travel with Ashima on an intimate journey through her life as an immigrant.
As a young wife and mother, Ashima Ganguli experiences labor and delivery just like many other American women, in a hospital. Motherhood is offered as a transnational identity, representing the traditional gender roles sometimes considered subordinate. Ashima quietly observes the habits of the American women that surround her. She overhears husbands telling their wives they love them. This is something a Bengali husband or wife would never say. While maintaining many traditional Bengali beliefs and practices, giving birth in a hospital is more typical of an American woman. Traditionally, Indian women are known to give birth in the home where they grew up, returning to their childhood, without the presence of their husbands or inlaws.
The traditional Indian sari that is draped around Ashima is exchanged for a hospital gown that leaves her feeling embarrassed by exposing her lower legs. For this reason, Ashima doesn’t relate to the many American women that wear short skirts, exposing their skin. Ashima is feeling lonely, knowing she will be sleeping alone for the very first time. She has always slept in a ...


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Many practices within diverse cultures are familiar, leading us to the realization that even though people have different beliefs and different values, and come from different countries, there are also many similarities. When analyzing the various practices withing diverse cultures, you begin to see the likeness of a society that reflects your own customs. Through out The Namesake, symbolic meaning contributes to the overall message of being able to establish an identity and embrace the identity of others.
The Namesake, combines the awareness of the Ganguli family’s own ethnicity,
routinely giving expression to what we have come to recognize as a family trying to assimilate to the surroundings they have decided to be a part of. The Namesake had taken the Ganguli family from their life of tradition in Calcutta through a transformation to a life in America.

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