Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake Analysis

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The Namesake, published in 2003, is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel. The novel explores characters caught between two conflicting cultures; two worlds, India and America.This novel is based upon the author’s own experiences growing up in America as the child of Indian immigrants. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli, the parents of protagonist Gogol Ganguli, her fictional counterpart, are based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s real parents. Gogol Ganguli is particularly torn between these two cultures. Born in America, immersed in mainstream American culture, but raised by parents who retain strong Indian traditions; in result, he struggles with his identity. As he grows up he questions who he truly is, and where he truly belongs. His past struggles all have an effect on his romantic relationships throughout the novel. Gogol’s three key relationships are animated by themes of belonging and alienation.

Gogol’s first serious relationship is with Ruth,
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He quickly becomes absorbed into her lifestyle, which is also drastically different from the more modest style of living he and his parents had. Maxine is a source of appeal and envy for Gogol as she is at ease with her identity. Gogol appears to be attracted to her simply as she is different from him, and different from his family. “And then he remembers that his parents can't possibly reach him: he has not given them the number, and the Ratliffs are unlisted. That here at Maxine's side, in this cloistered wilderness, he is free.” (6.140) : Maxine and her family are an escape for Gogol, but they also represent the distance from his family. Gogol views this relationship as an escape from his past, as an escape from his old self. He is now even more distanced and alienated from his parents. The closer he becomes with Maxine, the further he distances himself from his parents, and when his fathers dies, Maxine becomes a symbol of this alienation, and Gogol is overridden with
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